Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has called for an end of the use of the Vagrancy Act in Bristol, following a freedom of information request by the Bristol Post which found that 10 people had been apprehended in Bristol over the last two years under the law.
Layla Moran has introduced a private members' bill to the House of Commons calling for the almost 200 year old law to be repealed. In Bristol, Liberal Democrats have also tabled a motion calling on the council to stop its usage in the city.
Responding to the continued use in Bristol, Layla Moran MP said:
“The Liberal Democrats demand better than a law that is so outdated it was even opposed by William Wilberforce.
“In places like Bristol we should protect people who are ending up on the streets. Many of them are struggling with mental or physical health issues - they aren't criminals. Where's the logic in large fines for people who can barely afford to eat?
“Moving people on, issuing fines and putting them in prison cells should be a national source of shame. That’s why I am so passionate about repealing this Dickensian Act.”
James Cox, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Bristol West, added:
"Being homeless should not be a crime. Yet against all common sense and decency we are seeing rough sleepers targeted using this age-old legislation.
"Over the last few years we have seen folk moved on, fined, and even put in prison simply for sleeping rough on our streets. It should be a source of shame for the city, but the council seems unconcerned by its continued use.
"We need to be caring for our homeless, not criminalising them. Bristol deserves better."