The Welsh Liberal Democrats have expressed concerns over Cardiff Council and South Wales Police plans to introduce a new begging protocol which would include the threat and use of fines to tackle begging and street homelessness in the city.
The concerns follow an announcement during Council yesterday that Cardiff Council will work with South Wales Police to implement a new begging protocol based on the Operation Luscombe model.
Operation Luscombe was introduced first by the City of London Police in 2018. The system operates on an escalation model where those found begging or rough sleeping are initially invited to attend an intervention hub which is held every week, but if they do not attend this can then be escalated to a community Protection Warning (Amber), followed by a community Protection Notice (Red) (which may include fines) and are then arrestable if the red ticket is breached (Blue).
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have stated that fining people experiencing homeless and engaging in begging has been shown to have a detrimental effect and should be ruled out.
Leader of the Cardiff Lib Dem Group Cllr Rhys Taylor said:
“I am extremely concerned about the plans by Cardiff Labour to use the threat of fines and use of fines to tackle begging and street homelessness in the city.
“Evidence shows issuing fines to those rough sleeping is often detrimental to ending homelessness and can cause harm to vulnerable people.
“There is also evidence that it skews towards non-British citizens. 39% of those from the original London pilot were non-British citizens.
“The Liberal Democrats successfully led the campaign for the Vagrancy Act of 1824, which criminalized rough sleeping and begging in England and Wales, to be repealed earlier this year. The last thing we want to see is punishment for being homeless being reintroduced through the back door. There needs to be clear safeguards to keep people safe."