John Harris

Journalist & Author

In a new era of official nastiness, it’s suddenly a crime to be homeless | John Harris

Instead of addressing the causes of homelessness, local authorities are using public space protection orders to displace, fine and punish the vulnerable

A week ago, a case involving a homeless man called Ashley Hackett was thrown out of court in Brighton. He had been arrested by a plain-clothes police officer for asking a passer-by for 10p, an episode that triggered reports about Sussex police arresting 60 people on similar grounds in 2015 alone.

Related: A night on the streets: Britain’s homeless crisis – live

Related: Homelessness crisis: ministers consider ‘prevention duty’ for councils

Related: ‘I am well-spoken and not an addict’: how homelessness can happen to anyone | Sarah Marsh

Fines and arrest back up the rightwing idea of character failure; George Osborne sleeps that bit more easily

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