Photo: Homeless man chalks art on the pavement. "Homeless art beats begging".

Poole to consult on criminalising homelessness

The Borough of Poole is to consider a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) to give police the power to fine or prosecute begging and rough sleeping, following a public consultation which ended yesterday.

The proposed measures will prevent drinking in public, begging for money, food, or drink, sitting or loitering in public with a container used to collect money for the purposes of begging, or sleeping overnight in private or council owned car parks.

These offences could carry fixed penalty fines of £100, or prosecution, and apply to anybody aged 16 and over.

To introduce the legislation, the council must prove that these behaviours affect quality of life for local communities and are ‘persistent and unreasonable’.

An information leaflet which gave information ahead of the public consultation states: ‘The area attracts many visitors and we want them to have a positive experience of the town.’

Photo: Poole town centre. A map highlighting the area affected by the PSPO proposal.
The area affected by the PSPO proposal.

Ongoing Problems

This is part of a string of efforts to eradicate homeless people from public spaces in Bournemouth and Poole, including similar legislation which is due to expire this month.

Recently, the BBC found that Bournemouth Council had arranged 144 “reconnections” – offering one-way train tickets to homeless people – in the last three-and-a-half years.

Rising House Costs

Figures released by the Valuation Office Agency place average rent nationally at £675 per month, with the South East at the more expensive end of the evaluation. Finding a place to rent also requires homeless people to find a further one-month’s rent for a deposit.

According to the help to rent online database by Crisis, a charity for homeless people, there are only two services helping homeless people rent in Bournemouth.

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