Wednesday 20th January, 12-3pm
Outside Brighton Magistrate’s Courts, Edward Street, Brighton, BN2 0LG
CRIMINALISED FOR BEGGING
People are being sent to court, facing fines which they can’t afford to pay without begging, which risks further arrests and fines.
Begging, to pay off fines for begging
This approach is of no benefit to the community. It is a waste of tax payers’ money and of police time. More importantly, it is an added stress for vulnerable individuals who already have enough difficulty struggling to survive on the streets or in temporary accommodation.
Controversially, begging was made a recordable offence in December 2003, as part of the Government’s drive to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. The move was strongly criticised by the homeless charity, CRISIS who warned at the time that:
“The alleged proposals to make begging a recordable offence and tackle it through the criminal justice system are inappropriate, ineffective, costly and will not work as they do nothing to tackle the root causes of begging. This is not the first time that enforcement has been tried and it will not be the first time that it fails”. 
Recently, when a magistrate asked why the police were arresting so many people for begging, the clerk in the court room replied “because begging gives the city a bad reputation”. This is completely unacceptable and precisely the wrong headed approach which has allowed the problems of deep poverty and homelessness to go untreated for so long.
CRIMINALISED FOR BEING HOMELESS
People who are homeless are consistently ‘moved on’ from public areas, especially from the central streets of Brighton. This uncompassionate, odious responsiblity falls to the police, who apply Section 34 & 35 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act Dispersal Orders.  Asking someone who is homeless to ‘move on’ when they have nowhere else to go, is like asking someone to walk through a brick wall, as has been described to us by many homeless people. It’s not just unfair, it’s unusually cruel.
We would very much like you to join us outside Brighton Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, 20th January in solidarity with homeless people who are being discriminated against and criminalised. We want to raise awareness of this issue. We want to stand with those most vulnerable in our city who are threatened every day with the enforcement of immoral laws when they deserve compassion and support.
We want to persuade the authorities to radically shift their approach. We demand immediate action now, not empty rhetoric about what the council’s ambitions are for 2020.
We will be launching a petition on the day of the demo to Decriminalise Homelessness and Begging: #HomesNotHandcuffs
Please read, sign and share as far and wide as possible.