Suella Braverman claims sleeping rough is 'a lifestyle choice' as she calls for crackdown on homeless pitching tents

4 November 2023, 12:33 | Updated: 4 November 2023, 12:37

Suella Braverman said she wants to put a stop to the "nuisance and distress" caused by homeless people pitching tents
Suella Braverman said she wants to put a stop to the "nuisance and distress" caused by homeless people pitching tents. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Suella Braverman has claimed sleeping rough is a "lifestyle choice" as she calls for a crackdown on people pitching tents.

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The Home Secretary said she wants to put a stop to the "nuisance and distress" caused by homeless people pitching tents on public streets.

She said Britain "cannot allow our streets to be taken over by rows of tents" occupied by people who she said were mainly from abroad and "living on the streets as a lifestyle choice".

Braverman went on to warn that unless there was action, British cities could see an "explosion of crime, drug taking, and squalor" that San Francisco and Los Angeles in the United States had witnessed.

She added: "Nobody in Britain should be living in a tent on our streets. There are options for people who don’t want to be sleeping rough, and the government is working with local authorities to strengthen wraparound support including treatment for those with drug and alcohol addiction.

"What I want to stop, and what the law abiding majority wants us to stop, is those who cause nuisance and distress to other people by pitching tents in public spaces, aggressively begging, stealing, taking drugs, littering, and blighting our communities."

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It comes as she is pushing for restrictions on the use of tents in urban environments.

Braverman's proposals include establishing a civil offence to deter charities from giving tents to homeless people, according to the Financial Times.

The plans are being pitched to be included in the King's Speech, which will set out the UK Government's legislative agenda on Tuesday.

The potential legislation would look to prevent the obstruction of shop doorways by rough sleepers who are using tents.

In September, the government was warned by the Kerslake Commission, a panel of 36 experts, that it was not on target to meet its goal of ending rough sleeping by the next general election, which must take place by January 2025.

The government published its Ending Rough Sleeping For Good strategy in September 2022 in which it restated its 2019 manifesto commitment to end rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.

But figures published earlier this year showed that the number of people estimated to be sleeping rough in England had risen for the first time since 2017.

The Home Office has been approached for comment.

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