Windsor & Maidenhead RBC’s leader has called on the police to invoke a Vagrancy Act dating from 1824 to clear the local homeless population ahead of the royal wedding in May.
Simon Dudley (Con) wrote to the police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley Police (TVP), asking him to “take action” over the area’s homeless population through existing legislation.
Cllr Dudley added that a public space protection order was not the “appropriate option” for Windsor, as it would “take considerable time” and extend over the wedding date.
“There are a range of measures available to TVP to take action and support the Royal Borough in protecting residents and tourists, including enforcing current laws on vagrancy (The Vagrancy Act 1824) or the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014,” the council leader wrote in the letter to Anthony Stansfeld (Con).
The Vagrancy Act (1824) was repealed in Scotland in 1982, but remained partly in force in England and Wales. There were almost 1,500 convictions under the law in 2016.
Cllr Dudley wrote: “Homelessness is completely unacceptable in a compassionate community such as ours,” before adding: “a large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless.”
The latest official statistics show in 2016-17, 24 households were accepted as homeless by the council. Official figures also showed there were an estimated eight rough sleepers in Windsor & Maidenhead in the autumn of 2016 – the latest official figures to have been published.
Cllr Dudley’s letter was copied to Theresa May, MP for Maidenhead, and Amber Rudd, the home secretary.
“The whole situation also presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light,” Cllr Dudley said.