A homeless forum has said the Vagrancy Act “has past (sic) its sell by date” after a man was arrested for begging and then let off by the courts.
A law isn’t working? Maybe it’s because it’s not being used properly!
Robin Downward was taken into custody after being spotted sitting in two begging hotspots in the city centre before being granted an absolute discharge by magistrates.
The 40-year-old, who is temporarily housed in the Travelodge in Cathedral Square, said he was “just trying to get food” and was not actively begging, but allowing people to voluntarily give him money.
Only an idiot – or a magistrate – could believe that…
Speaking on behalf of the Worcester Cares, Vulnerable People and Homeless Forum, Jonathan Sutton said: “In the vast majority of cases the criminalisation of people through the courts is not the answer“.
But admitted, with all the services available to rough sleepers in the city, “there should be no good reason why a person has to resort to begging”.
Then if there’s no good reason, criminalisation is really the only option, surely?
Mr Sutton said there are “increasing numbers” of beggars, some aggressive, many with “significant addictions” and we need to them to engage with services.
“The question that is raised by this case is how do we collectively respond to those individuals who (sic) situation – and past trauma – is so bad that they are unable and unwilling to access, or make use of, the services that would help them?” he said.
Well, we used to have these things called ‘workhouses’. Those Victorians knew a thing or two, didn’t they?