Rishi Sunak’s anti-social behaviour clampdown includes 'nuisance' begging

A laughing gas ban is also in the government's sights as Rishi Sunak outlines his crackdown on 'anti-social behaviour', as Carl Dinnen reports

Beggars causing a “nuisance” on Britain’s streets will be targeted as part of prime minister Rishi Sunak’s plans to crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

Police and local authorities will get added powers to target people deemed to be causing 'public distress', according to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The possession of nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, will also be banned and on-the-spot fines for crimes such as fly-tipping and littering could be doubled.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Credit: Leon Neal/PA

The debris and paraphernalia left behind by criminals, including laughing gas cannisters, will be cleared by authorities in an effort to tidy up Britain’s high streets and make them safer.

Part of the so-called 'action plan' is to also make it an offence for criminal gangs to organise begging networks to make them extra cash.

The government said the networks are “often used to facilitate illegal activities”.

On addressing homelessness, ministers said they remained “committed” to repealing the “antiquated” Vagrancy Act which was passed in the early 19th century.

The legislation made it a crime to sleep rough or beg in England and Wales.

Ministers have said nobody should be criminalised for not having somewhere to live.

The UK government consulted last year on how to replace the Act.

What other elements of the government's anti-social behaviour crackdown are there?

  • Laughing gas will be banned

  • Drug testing of criminals will become more prevalent

  • On-the-spot fines for graffiti and fly-tipping will be increased

  • More money will be ploughed into youth centres as part of a bid to eradicate behaviours spoiling Britain’s neighbourhoods

The plan to tackle homelessness and nuisance begging forms part of a package of measures aimed at stamping out anti-social behaviour which was unveiled by the prime minister on Monday.

It also includes piloting increased police patrols in trouble spots, banning the sale of laughing gas to the public and making it easier for landlords to evict noisy and disruptive tenants.

Mr Sunak said anti-social behaviour “undermines the basic right of people to feel safe in the place they call home” as he vowed to “tackle this issue with the urgency it deserves”.

Addressing members of the public and broadcasters in Essex on Monday, he said people deserve to live in communities they are "proud to call home" and vowed to fulfill his promise of 20,000 more police officers on the streets by the end of March.

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