The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is consulting on proposed replacement legislation for the Vagrancy Act.

The Vagrancy Act 1824 makes it an offence to sleep rough or beg in England and Wales. Through the Act anyone found to be sleeping in a public place, or to be trying to beg for money, can be arrested. 

This consultation seeks views on the replacement of offences previously held in the Vagrancy Act. This covers the following areas: 

  • How to replace the offences in the Vagrancy Act which prohibit begging in an appropriate way that prioritises getting individuals into support.
  • How we can make sure that replacement legislation on begging supports the right environment in which to deliver effective services and to engage with vulnerable people constructively.
  • What other changes – either legislative or non-legislative – should be considered to better equip police, local authorities and other agencies to engage with people who are rough sleeping and to encourage them into support.

You can read more about the government's plans for repeal of the Vagrancy Act here.

The consultation is open until 11:45pm on Thursday 5 May 2022.

You can respond to the consultation either online or by email.


Diane Jarvis, Head of Business Operations, Sheffield BID:

 “Sheffield is already taking a multi-agency approach to supporting people that are unfortunate enough to find themselves homeless through the Help Us Help campaign, the Council’s Outreach Teams, the city centre enforcement teams and the police, and Sheffield BID is a key partner in this work. 

"Many city centre businesses have initiatives in place to support those begging on the street, so we know they will want to get their voices heard. Whatever the government ultimately proposes to replace the Vagrancy Act with, it must provide a balance between providing support for vulnerable people whilst also ensuring that the ability of police to protect the city centre community is not unduly weakened. Addressing the issue of antisocial behaviour is essential not only for the safety of businesses and residents but also for the health of our city centre. 

“Any new legislation should support business owners to better understand the complexities around the homeless issue, how to manage adverse activity around their premises and to effectively empower those agencies with the resources to deal with homelessness and begging. We need clear boundaries for what is and isn’t acceptable in a public space. We need provision to target persistent and aggressive begging and other public order offences. 

“It is important that we encourage as many businesses as we can to respond to the government’s consultation exercise. We know that businesses of all shapes and sizes that choose to make the city centre their home are often impacted by the issues that can be presented by rough sleeping and begging, especially aggressive begging and this can cause distress for their staff and customers alike. 

"Many will also feel that the idea that an individual can be criminalised for simply having nowhere to live is very much an outdated idea in 2022."

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