A Freedom of Information request has shown that 236 'offenders' were found guilty under the Vagrancy Act (1824) between the years 2014 to 2017 in Wales.
South Wales Police were the most likely force to use the Act, which criminalises rough sleepers, averaging 34 convictions a year. Gwent Police and North Wales Police both averaged 12 convictions, whilst Dyfed-Powys Police averaged only 0.5.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:
The UK Government, and local authorities, should be ashamed that they have continued to allow the use of a law that makes rough sleeping a criminal offence, and for it to be used so prolifically with little regard for the people afflicted.
This law was controversial 200 years ago, and it has no place in a modern, compassionate society.
I call on the UK Government to back my cross-party campaign to scrap the Vagrancy Act, a Bill which criminalises and degrades the most vulnerable, and should bring shame to those who allow its use.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented:
It’s deeply disappointing police forces across Wales continue to use this outdated legislation to criminalise vulnerable homeless people. These people need compassion, not convictions.
I’m proud Layla Moran is leading the campaign to scrap the Vagrancy Act. Until Layla’s campaign is successful, I urge Welsh police forces to stop using the law to criminalise homeless people.