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Crackdown on rough sleeping in London hipster hotspots sparks outrage

Rough sleepers could be fined up to €1,360 in some of London’s most sought after boroughs.

16935944552_7aeae9a93a_b The Cat and Mutton at Broadway Market. Source: Flickr/draopsni

OVER 70,000 PEOPLE have signed an online petition calling on a London Council to reverse the decision to introduce fines of up to €1,360 for rough sleeping.

Hackney’s Public Space Protection Orders aim to tackle “anti-social behaviour” such as “street drinking, persistent rough sleeping and begging”.

The council say they are targeting “hot spots” but their decision has caused outrage among homeless charities.

“It is absurd to impose a fine of £1,000 on somebody who is already homeless and struggling,” according to the Change.org petition.

People should not be punished for the “crime” of not having a roof over their head – there is nothing inherently “anti-social” or criminal about rough sleeping.

PastedImage-53771 Source: Change.org

The orders give police and local authority officers the power to issue fines of £100 which can rise to £1,000 in the event of non-payment.

The orders apply to five areas including London Fields, Regents Canal and Broadway Market. It’s led to accusations that the council is seeking to target rough sleepers in ‘hipster areas’.

But Hackney Council said the point of the move was to push people into accepting help.

The measure “is designed to tackle a handful of entrenched rough sleepers who have repeatedly… resisted all attempts to house them and help them,” Councillor Sophie Linden said.

They are “causing serious problems for other residents with anti-social behaviour including drug use, drunkenness, public urination and defecation, and threatening behaviour”.

Often, “the threat of legal action has been the push that has persuaded them to seek the help that they so desperately need”.

Last year, anti-rough sleeper spikes were installed in a sheltered area outside a block of flats in another part of London, causing an uproar.

Charities estimate there are around 6,500 people sleeping rough in London.

With reporting by © – AFP 2015

Read: Inside the Night Cafe: ‘People are just so relieved to be indoors for the night’ >

Read: Possible solutions for homelessness – and the ones that got it wrong >

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Rónán Duffy

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