Behind the headlines

Homelessness organisations have reacted angrily to a judge’s
decision to ban a homeless man – 51-year-old Leonard Hockey – from
begging on the streets of Manchester city centre for two years.
Greater Manchester Police and Manchester Council applied for the
civil injunction under the Local Government Act 1972. Hockey is
addicted to crack and heroin, has been arrested 97 times and has
spent a total of seven years in prison for a variety of drug
offences. However, the judge said that he was not someone who was
homeless and that he has been a secure tenant at his address for
more than a year.

The judge said that “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. “Manchester Council said that
a clear message had been sent to beggars that they should not be in
Manchester city centre.

“There is no need for anyone to beg, because our treatment services
and support are second to none,”said executive member for housing
Basil Curley.

Martin Green, chief executive, Counsel and Care for the

“I support the decision to impose a civil injunction in the Hockey
case. It is clear that he has serious problems with substance abuse
and this issue needs to be addressed. But, he is clearly not
homeless and he is using the proceeds of begging to support his
substance abuse. Allowing him to continue unchallenged in this
lifestyle is not helping anyone, least of all Hockey himself. It
should also be acknowledged that begging is sometimes aggressive,
and can be very intimidating. It will be interesting to see what
impact this legal approach has on the problem.”

Bob Hudson, principal research fellow, Nuffield Institute
for Health, University of Leeds

“Unfortunately, this looks like another example of being tough on
the consequences of social problems but not on the causes. It is
far from clear that this man constitutes a threat to anyone except
himself, and the response appears to be draconian. Manchester
Council claims to have very effective treatment and support
services, but they seem to have been rather ineffective in this
case. Yet another jail sentence following another begging would be
both expensive and counter-productive.”

Karen Squillino, primary prevention co-ordinator,

“The civil injunction against Hockey is pointless. The only purpose
it will serve is to move Hockey to another area so he can continue
to beg. He has not felt able to access any of the numerous drug
agencies in Manchester despite, I imagine, having being supported
and encouraged to do this after each of his 97 arrests. This
indicates that services are not targeted correctly for people like
Hockey and a radical rethink around drugs policies is

David Comley, director of social work services at Glasgow

“Glasgow Council is concerned about street begging, from the point
of view both of the individuals engaged in it and the impact on the
public. Research in Glasgow has shown that many have experienced
severe trauma in their lives. Most are desperate to move away from
begging and rough sleeping, but the complexity of the problems they
face means that they need extensive support to achieve this. These
are the issues we are addressing as we close our large-scale
hostels and implement policies to end rough sleeping.”

Bob Holman, community worker at a project in Easterhouse,

“Non-executive directors can receive huge salaries for little
effort. Thousands inherit riches for which they did not work.
Freebies are all right for the wealthy. Not so for the poor. The
judge bans Hockey from begging in Manchester. He adds that the
issue of whether he might turn to crime is not a concern of the
court. It’s a concern of mine. A drug abuser threatened me with a
machete. I was terrified. Later he was arrested in the street for a
mugging and sent to prison. Far better if he had just been a

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