Green Party leader Natalie Bennett is backing Hackney Green Party’s calls for Labour controlled Hackney Council to retract its proposals to impose fines of up to £1,000 on persistent rough sleepers and homeless people. The plans are included in the provisions of a Public Space Protection Order covering much of central and south Hackney.
Commenting Natalie Bennett said: "The rising tide of poverty and destitution caused by low pay and benefits cuts, combined with the soaring cost of housing, is evident in the increasing number of people forced to sleep on our streets. Fining and criminalising them for their own misfortune is not only cruel, but also likely to be counter-productive. Hackney council talks about protecting the community from harm that may or may not have been caused by rough sleepers, but it appears to forget that they are members of the community too."
Hackney Green Party wants to see a coordinated approach to homelessness and rough sleeping. This would include working in partnership across Hackney, improving access to health and rehabilitation services, and providing secure and supported housing.
Hackney Green Party spokesperson Charlotte George said: "Under the government’s austerity programme over the last five years, we’ve seen a rise in the number of people made homeless in London, up 77% since 2010 according to Crisis. With cuts to public services set to deepen over the next five years, we need to find ways to address the root causes of homelessness - because it will undoubtedly continue to rise. Criminalizing rough sleeping is not the way to do it."
The Green Party is encouraging people to sign the petition against the fines and write to Hackney Council to oppose this proposal.
"The only thing this Public Space Protection Order can achieve is to move rough sleepers elsewhere. Out of sight, out of mind. It is a shameful, inhuman policy and we want Hackney Council will reconsider," added Ms George.