We the undersigned call upon the council to desist from arresting and charging rough sleepers under the Vagrancy Act 1824.
Under the Vagrancy Act 1824, rough sleeping is illegal. The act has been used multiple times across the city to drag homeless people before the courts.
In recent years, there has been an upward trend in the number of rough sleepers who are being arrested and then charged by Bristol City Council.
In one case, Adrian Hill was given a six-month sentence for breaching an injunction banning him from entering Clifton Village and from begging elsewhere in the city, described by an academic from the University of Bristol as "criminalising begging".
Whilst there must be a balanced approach to dealing with homelessness, people should not be targetted simply for being on the streets. Rough sleepers are more often the victims of crime, not criminals.
Destitution is not a crime, and prison will not solve it. The Vagrancy Act is an outdated, Dickensian law and a progressive city like Bristol should be leading the way by refusing to use it.
We, therefore, call upon the city council to work with Avon & Somerset Police to stop using the Vagrancy Act.