Luton Council defends begging ban proposals after criticism from Liberty

Luton Borough Council has hit back at criticisms from human rights group Liberty over proposed changes to a public space protection order (PSPO) in the town.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:18 am

The PSPO proposals (available here) would allow the council to issue fixed penalty notices to beggars as well as extend the begging ban to the Galaxy Centre area.

In a letter dated January 30, Liberty had strongly criticised the proposed PSPO as "penalising poverty".

A local authority spokesman said: "Luton Council appreciates that the circumstances which lead vulnerable individuals to beg can be complex and require specialist support.

Luton Town Hall

"As partners in Big Change, an initiative of the Luton Homeless Partnership, which was launched in December 2019, we are committed to giving long-term support to organisations which help those who are sleeping rough and experiencing homelessness.

"The current PSPO in relation to begging adopts a failure to stop approach which means that a person only breaches the PSPO if they do not stop begging when asked to by an authorised officer.

"The proposals would allow the council to issue fixed penalty notices to people who are begging, but there will be other options available which include issuing warnings and using restorative justice measures such as referring individuals to support services."

Residents have until tomorrow (February 5) to submit comments on the proposed PSPO.