A Freedom of Information request has shown that 6,518 ‘offenders’ were found guilty under the Vagrancy Act (1824) between the years 2014 to 2017 in England and Wales. 

The Metropolitan Police were the most likely force to use the Act, which criminalises rough sleepers, averaging 459 convictions a year. West Midlands police force area averaged 161, and Merseyside averaged 148 per year. 

Commenting on the findings, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who has brought forward legislation to scrap the Vagrancy Act, said:

“The 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 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.”

Notes
 

Offenders found guilty at all courts of offences under the Vagrancy Act 1824 (1) by police force area, England and Wales, 2014-2017 (2)(3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police force area

2014

2015

2016

2017

 

 

Gloucestershire

3

2

3

.

 

 

Surrey

12

3

1

 

 

City of London

 

 

Metropolitan Police (4)

671

466

481

218

 

 

West Midlands

272

158

133

83

 

 

Merseyside

162

183

165

82

 

 

Greater Manchester

182

128

56

75

 

 

Nottinghamshire

20

66

69

53

 

 

Northumbria

100

126

34

49

 

 

Derbyshire

52

31

21

43

 

 

Cheshire

63

45

34

40

 

 

Lancashire

51

38

41

35

 

 

Cleveland

37

10

29

33

 

 

Norfolk

20

12

13

28

 

 

West Yorkshire

47

31

31

26

 

 

Thames Valley

49

39

28

24

 

 

Lincolnshire

16

21

19

23

 

 

South Wales

43

47

24

23

 

 

West Mercia

21

20

10

21

 

 

Avon and Somerset

46

20

11

19

 

 

Cambridgeshire

55

30

24

18

 

 

South Yorkshire

30

46

46

17

 

 

Warwickshire

4

6

8

14

 

 

Humberside

35

18

24

11

 

 

Devon and Cornwall

7

14

13

9

 

 

Gwent

15

14

11

9

 

 

North Wales

10

13

17

8

 

 

Hertfordshire

14

12

15

7

 

 

Kent

8

12

7

7

 

 

Hampshire

52

27

12

6

 

 

Sussex

28

40

7

6

 

 

Durham

8

9

7

5

 

 

Staffordshire

7

5

4

5

 

 

Cumbria

5

2

2

4

 

 

Leicestershire

8

11

10

4

 

 

Essex

12

6

6

4

 

 

North Yorkshire

17

12

5

3

 

 

Northamptonshire

4

7

1

3

 

 

Dorset

40

8

18

3

 

 

Bedfordshire

7

4

4

2

 

 

Wiltshire

13

5

9

2

 

 

Suffolk

34

11

2

1

 

 

Dyfed Powys

.

.

.

2

 

 

Total (ALL)

2,280

1,758

1,455

1,025

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ‘ – ‘  = Nil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Includes  Sections 3 and 4 of  Vagrancy Act 1824 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2) The figures given in the table relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(3) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4) Metropolitan Police includes City of London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services – Ministry of Justice.

 

 

 

 

 

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