Windsor & Maidenhead council - Drop proposed fines for homelessness

Windsor & Maidenhead council is proposing £100 fines for homeless people. With a sick irony the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead intends to impose Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) on those on the streets in town centres in the area, including Windsor, Maidenhead, Ascot and Eton.

These punitive measures against those who are destitute demand £100 fixed penalty notice, which increases to £1,000 if it remains unpaid - highly likely, for those with nothing at all, who will be criminalized for being homeless.

Windsor council, in doing nothing to help those who are on the streets because they have nowhere else to go, claims it "has accommodation for all those on the streets", omitting that this 'help' is extremely conditional and limited.

A number of other Local Authorities have tried similar measures but dropped them after the public backlash, as have companies and commercial landlords who have installed anti-homeless spikes in doorways, or 'hostile architecture' such as sloping benches to prevent people sitting or resting in the vicinity.

Please sign the petition now to demand that Windsor & Maidenhead Council drop their plans to fine homeless people for begging or being on the streets. Concerted action works, and after a Care2 petition, Stoke-on-Trent City Council became the twelfth organization last December to drop anti-homeless measures or to exit commercial or governmental processes of gentrification and social cleansing, this petition aims to make it 13/15 victories.

Windsor council leader Simon Dudley faced a No Confidence vote last month after comments calling for police to remove people from the streets, since they had 'chosen' to be there, and had 'refused' "high-quality housing" 'on offer'.

These latest punitive measures have attracted criticism from homelessness charities Shelter and Crisis, and human rights advocacy group Liberty (National Council for Civil Liberties, NCCL).

"It is wrong to fine or criminalise homeless people simply because they are homeless," Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis said. "People deserve better than to be treated as criminals simply because they have nowhere to live.

Meanwhile Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, said: "If somebody is forced to spend the night on the streets, that's not a lifestyle choice or antisocial behaviour. If someone begs for money, that's not harassment; that's a plea for basic compassion."

Anne Baxendale, the deputy director of communications, policy and campaigns at Shelter, said: "People sleeping on the street don't do so through choice; they are often at their lowest point, struggling with a range of complex problems and needs and they are extremely vulnerable, at risk from cold weather, illness and even violence. They desperately need our help, support and advice to move off the streets into safety and, eventually, into a home. Stigmatising or punishing them is totally counter-productive."

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