Court bans man from begging in city centre

Leonard Hockey

A judge’s decision to impose a civil injunction against a
51-year-old man, banning him from begging in Manchester city centre
for two years, has been criticised by homelessness organisations as
“criminalising” those who live on the street,
writes Clare Jerrom.

Judge Richard Holman imposed the injunction against Leonard
Hockey at Manchester county court following an application by
Greater Manchester Police and Manchester Council under the Local
Government Act 1972.

“This is a sad day for homeless people,” said Shaks
Ghosh, Crisis’ chief executive. “The injunction to ban
Leonard Hockey from Manchester city centre is yet another example
of the coercion and criminalisation of beggars and street homeless

Hockey has substance misuse problems, had been arrested 97 times
and spent a total of seven years in prison for a variety of drug

But Judge Holman said Hockey is not someone who is homeless and
destitute, and said he had been a secure tenant at his current
address for over a year.

The judge said: “The implied threat that he will resort to other
serious criminal activity to feed his drug habits is not one to
which the court can or should bow.”

Hockey’s solicitor Ben Taylor said he will be advising his
client to appeal against the decision, and warned the case would
“open the flood gates to bring a number of injunctions
against other beggars”.

Criminalising people does not work as it does not tackle the
root of the problem, said Ghosh. “Giving homeless people a
criminal record worsens their situation making it more difficult to
find housing and jobs.”

“Leonard Hockey’s 97 arrests represent 97
opportunities for intervention and 97 failures,” he

Mike Tristram, director of The Simon Community said all too
often the response is to “punish the most vulnerable and
needy in society”, and this approach is likely to just move
beggars on from one area to another.

Shelter’s director of external affairs Ben Jackson warned
that this approach “is not going to work”. The charity
would encourage local authorities to provide services that tackle
the causes of homelessness such as drug and alcohol recovery

Manchester Council’s executive member for housing Basil Curley
said: “This sends a clear message to beggars that they should not
be on the streets of Manchester city centre. There is no need for
anyone to beg, because our treatment services and support are
second to none.”

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