How to tackle homelessness: make it illegal

Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up. The Independent reports on how “Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness”. Apparently the cops took blankets, sleeping bags and food from people they found sleeping rough in an abandoned public baths:

One of the men targeted in the action, Adam Jaskowiak, pleaded with officers to be allowed to keep his possessions for warmth. The 34-year-old said: “They [the police officers] were just taking the sleeping bags and chucking out everything. I asked to keep it, and the food, but they said ‘No’.

“I just grabbed as many of my things as possible and put them into a bag and ran.”

The police then had the nerve to defend this action, saying the shocking intervention was part of a co-ordinated effort to “reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers”.

Chief Inspector John Fish told the Ilford Recorder: “The public rely on the police to reduce the negative impact; this includes the need for us to assist in the removal of tents and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations.”

Inspector Fish’s comment is very fishy. The rough sleepers were in an abandoned public baths, not pitching tents by the roadside or sleeping in shop doorways. Not that I think it’s wrong for anyone to sleep rough – it’s wrong that anyone needs to sleep rough.

This is clearly part of police action to intimidate homeless people so they leave London. This is because the sight of homeless people sleeping out may negatively affect tourism. And I can see how it might develop: “solve” the problem of homelessness by sending homeless people to jail. Then the streets of London will be nice and shiny for the tourists, who will then find it wonderful to see rich people staggering out of nightclubs at closing time, drinking and fighting in the streets… when the poor do it, it’s wrong; but if the rich do it, it’s just “natural exuberance”.

To see more of what I think about this issue check out Streets of London Redux. To put it succinctly: it makes me fucking sick.

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