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High court to hear crowdfunded challenge to ‘begging fines’


The Guardian


Patrick Greenfield


Landmark case will consider whether councils’ public space protection orders unfairly target homeless people.

A landmark high court case will determine whether fines for begging, loitering and leaving bedding in doorways unfairly targets homeless people, after a fundraising campaign for legal costs reached its target.

Lawyers for Sarah Ward, who lives in Poole, will outline their challenge on Monday to a public space protection order (PSPO) in the town centre which prohibits obstructing doorways, sitting with a receptacle “for the purpose of begging” and other behaviour associated with homelessness. People found to have violated the order are liable to a £100 spot fine, which can rise to £1,000 if left unpaid, and receive a summary conviction.

The human rights group Liberty is backing the first case of its kind against Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) council , which could set a precedent for the rising number of councils that have obtained the power to issue fines for rough sleeping, begging and loitering in England and Wales. A hearing will take place in 2020.

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