A petition that wants homeless people to be exempt from a new protection order that would “criminalise” rough sleeping has been signed by nearly 50,000 people.
Oxford City Council has put forward a proposal that would impose Public Spaces Protection Orders on various "anti-social activities" in the city. One of the offences mentioned is “street sleeping”.
A change.org petition started by On Your Doorstep says any ban would “only increase (already high) levels of stigma surrounding Oxford’s homeless population.”
The Independent contacted the council to clarify these proposals and, while the council confirmed that the proposals could see fines given to people for sleeping rough, they said that the only people who would be affected were those who “are already receiving support and accommodation".
A spokesman confirmed that the only people sleeping rough who could be targeted were those who had a bed available to them in a hostel or a shelter and that anyone without accommodation would not find themselves moved or fined.
Peter Sloman, Chief Executive of Oxford City Council said in a statement: “It is untrue that the proposed Order would ‘criminalise’ rough sleeping.”
The statement added: “The experience of the team [working with homeless people] is that a small number of people continue to beg and sleep on the City’s streets despite receiving support and having been allocated accommodation.
“It is the only behaviour that would be covered by the Public Spaces Protection Order.”
In pictures: Homeless Veterans appeal
In pictures: Homeless Veterans appeal
1/20 Glynn Barrell
Glyn Barrell is among the veterans hoping to benefit from the self-build scheme in Plymouth
2/20 Rachel Holliday
Rachel Holliday is converting a police station into a hostel
3/20 Androcles Scicluna
Veteran Androcles Scicluna says performing boosted his confidence
4/20 Christopher Cole
Christopher Cole, 51, from London, spent three years in the Army but left in 1982
5/20 Maurillia Simpson
Former servicewoman Maurillia Simpson with the medals she won at last year’s Invictus Games
Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard
6/20 Martin Rutledge
Head of The Soldiers’ Charity, Martin Rutledge, says charities sometimes allow emotion to dictate their choices
7/20 Ben Griffin
Ben Griffin wants to open people’s eyes to the cycle of political violence
8/20 Robin Horsfall
Robin Horsfall, who fought in the Falklands and helped end the Iranian embassy siege
9/20 Mark Hayward
A bed for the night and food helped Mark Hayward out of misfortune
10/20 Ashley Rosser
Ashley Rosser, who served in the RAF, at the Veterans Aid hostel in east London
11/20 Dave Henson
Britain's Invictus Games captain Dave Henson says veterans’ charities helped rebuild his life
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
12/20 Hugh Milroy
Hugh Milroy dispels myths about war-zone veterans through his work as the CEO of Veterans Aid
13/20 Andy MacFarlane and Julie Taylor
Former soldiers Andy MacFarlane and Julie Taylor work at the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Solihull under a covenant connecting veterans with employers
14/20 Mark McKillion
Mark McKillion's experience of living on the street eventually left him feeling as though the only way to escape was to end his life. He survived his desperate jump from Westminster Bridge, and VA's help has restored his "faith in humanity"
Nigel, a navy veteran, remembers living on the beach in the run-up to Christmas, when it rained every day for a week. He slept on a bench for seven years whilst suffering from Parkinson's disease.
16/20 Keith Cooper
Before Keith Cooper had his place confirmed at Avondale House in Newcastle, he was working out whether he could afford to buy a tent to live in
17/20 Simon Weston
Simon Weston, a Falklands War veteran, said even something as simple as a cup of tea can be an important step in getting the life of a homeless veteran back on track.
18/20 Ian Palmer, professor of military psychiatry
Ian Palmer, the first professor of military psychiatry to the British Armed Forces, says that the depiction of all ex-service personnel having post-traumatic stress disorder may stop people who really need help from getting it
19/20 Douglas Cameron
Evgeny Lebedev with Douglas Cameron, who had a hernia operation while serving in Burma
Johnnie Shand Kidd
20/20 Veterans Aid
General Sir Mike Jackson, President of ABF The Soldiers' Charity, called for donations to the Homeless Veterans appeal
The petition suggests that the proposals "risk treating rough sleepers as a problem to be dealt with, as an inconvenience, as a threat, rather than as individual human beings".
On Your Doorstep is a student run Oxford based campaign which aims to raise awareness about homelessness and issues surrounding homelessness.
On Your Doorstep could not be reached for comment at the time of writing