The homeless should be helped, not criminalised

Tony Gosling tony at
Sun Jan 21 22:33:41 GMT 2018

The homeless should be helped, not criminalised

In response to new plans to fine people for 
sleeping rough, Charlotte Lillywhite condemns 
councils’ callous treatment of the homeless

Stoke-on-Trent council plans to reduce their 
funding of homelessness services by £1mGARRY KNIGHT, FLICKR

by <>Charlotte Lillywhite

Sunday January 7 2018, 10:17pm
The proposal issued by Stoke-on-Trent City 
Council to fine homeless people for sleeping in 
tents, for persistent or aggressive begging, and 
for sleeping in public toilets, is appalling. 
Although the proposal concerning the use of tents 
has now been scrapped following a public 
petition, the council is still considering 
whether to impose fines for the other activities. 
An on-the-spot penalty of £100 may be issued, 
followed by prosecution and a bill of up to £1000 
if the initial penalty is left unpaid. This 
doesn’t mean that the fine for sleeping in tents 
is any less relevant, however: the council’s 
desire to put it in place, and the support that 
the proposal attracted, is telling in itself.

Economic motives lurk beneath the surface of 
these proposed fines. The proposals were 
primarily supported by businesses in 
Stoke-on-Trent. This indicates that people are 
more concerned about the way that the city 
appears to tourists and consumers, than they are 
about those who have found themselves in 
desperately vulnerable situations. The charity 
Shelter recorded that 43 people in Stoke-on-Trent 
were without a home this year. It also noted a 
22% increase in homelessness in the West Midlands in the last twelve months.

“How do councils expect the homeless to pay these fines?”

The prioritisation of appearance over reality is 
also revealed in the impracticality of these 
policies – how does the council expect homeless 
people to pay the fines which are to be 
needlessly imposed upon them? This inefficacy 
forces us to interrogate the council’s motives. 
Are the proposals designed to send out an 
intolerant message to the city’s homeless?

A sinister behavioural system begins to emerge 
from behind the legitimate façade of the 
council’s policies: an effort is being made to 
criminalise the homeless. By trying to make 
sleeping in a tent an offence, and by attempting 
to criminalise “aggressive” and “persistent” 
begging – terms which can be subjectively defined 
and thus manipulated – councillors legitimise the 
stigmas which propelled them to punish 
rough-sleepers in the first place.They exploit 
social fears by forging an imaginative link 
between homelessness and crime. This validates 
their treatment of the homeless as criminals, 
excusing their perpetuation of prejudice by 
deflecting any criticism onto the idea of law and 
order. Through this, PSPOs (Pubic Space 
Protection Orders, which allow councils to 
criminalise activities within certain areas) 
become a series of legal loopholes, enabling 
unjustified punishments to be proposed.

This exploitation is widespread: 36 local 
councils in England and Wales are working on 
similar policies involving PSPOs, including 
Newport City Council, which is trying to place a 
blanket ban on rough sleeping and begging. On a 
larger scale, the government is distorting the 
reality of homelessness in our society. At PMQs 
on 13th December, Theresa May brazenly lied about 
the situation, claiming that “statutory 
homelessness peaked under the Labour government 
and is down by over 50% since then”. This implies 
that the Conservatives are responsible for 
reducing the figures. The truth, however, is 
that, while statutory homelessness did peak under 
Labour, this was a result of Conservative control 
from 1979 to 1996. Labour went on to reduce the 
number of rough sleepers to its lowest level 
since 1998. Homelessness only began to rise again 
once the Conservatives returned to power in 2010: 
the DCLG reports that the number of households in 
temporary accommodation has increased by 65% since December of that same year.

This rise is irrefutably linked to Conservative 
policy. Since coming into office, the government 
has slashed benefits, cut council funding and 
reduced the availability of affordable housing. 
This pushes people into desperate situations and 
has left a considerable number of them homeless. 
For example, the DCLG has linked 28% of cases 
involving those who have become homeless since 
2010 to Assured Shorthold Tenancies. Those who 
are victimised by government policy are then 
punished by the same authorities. This is 
exemplified by the situation in Stoke-on-Trent, 
where the recent proposals run alongside a plan 
to reduce support for homelessness services by £1m, due to budget cuts.

This forces people back into the vulnerable 
situations in which they started. Only now there 
is a framework which legitimises their callous 
treatment. To truly change the situation, the 
prejudice which encourages the formation of these 
policies and grants them legitimacy must be 
dismantled: systemic action is required to change 
the causes of the issue rather than the effects. 
We need transparency to ensure reality is no 
longer distorted and to avoid the manipulation of 
the public at the hands of authority
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 From South America, where payment must be made with subtlety, the 
Bormann organization has made a substantial contribution. It has 
drawn many of the brightest Jewish businessmen into a participatory 
role in the development of many of its corporations, and many of 
these Jews share their prosperity most generously with Israel. If 
their proposals are sound, they are even provided with a specially 
dispensed venture capital fund. I spoke with one Jewish businessmen 
in Hartford, Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown several 
years before our conversation, but with Bormann money as his 
leverage. Today he is more than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the 
community with a certain share of his profits earmarked as always for 
his venture capital benefactors. This has taken place in many other 
instances across America and demonstrates how Bormann's people 
operate in the contemporary commercial world, in contrast to the 
fanciful nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much "literature."

So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish participation in Bormann 
companies that when Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv 
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the Jewish and German 
communities of Buenos Aires. Jewish leaders informed the Israeli 
authorities in no uncertain terms that this must never happen again 
because a repetition would permanently rupture relations with the 
Germans of Latin America, as well as with the Bormann organization, 
and cut off the flow of Jewish money to Israel. It never happened 
again, and the pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of 
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an Argentinian safe haven, 
protected by the most efficient German infrastructure in history as 
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.
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