Westminster (London) Moves To Ban Lying Down in Public and Giving Away Food

A new law in Westminster (London), England would make it illegal to lie down in a public place and to give away food. It is another example of cities criminalizing or banning conduct that includes routine behavior. It is an invitation for arbitrary enforcement since I doubt the police will be arresting folks resting in the parks outside of their offices. The law can be used as an easily available justification for stopping and potentially arresting individuals.

Here is the law:


Byelaws made under section 235 of the Local Government Act 1972 by the Council ofthe City of Westminster for the good rule and government of the City of Westminsterand for the prevention and suppression of nuisances.

1. In these Byelaws: “the Council” means the Council of the City of Westminster; “distribute free refreshments” means give them out or offer to make themavailable to, members of the public; “health authority” means a Strategic Health Authority, a Primary CareTrust, an NHS trust, a Special Health Authority, an NHS foundation trustor a Local Health Board; “public place” means any street, road, square, piazza, doorway, forecourt,courtyard, bridge, stairway, walkway or other similar place in the open airto which the public have or are permitted to have access, whether with orwithout payment; “refreshments” includes food or drink; refreshments are “free” if they are distributed without charge to thepersons to whom they are distributed.

2. These Byelaws apply to those areas in the City of Westminster identifiedin the Schedule and shown edged in red on the plan attached.

3. (1) No person shall lie down or sleep in or on any public place. (2) No person shall at any time deposit any materials used or intended to beused as bedding in or on any public place.

4. (1) No person shall distribute any free refreshment in or on any public place. (2) No person shall knowingly permit any person to distribute any freerefreshment in or on any public place.

5. Byelaw 4 does not apply to the distribution of free refreshments – (a) to persons taking part in a sporting event; (b) on any premises on which there is in force a premises licence under Part3 of the Licensing Act 2003 or a temporary event notice under section 100of the same Act; (c) if the distribution is of samples of refreshments and is carried out formarketing purposes on land adjacent to retail premises in which the samerefreshments are available for sale; (d) by the Council or any health authority (or any person acting on behalf ofthe Council or any health authority) exercising powers to protect publichealth.


6. Any person offending against these Byelaws shall be liable on summaryconviction to a fine not exceeding level 2 on the standard scale.

Besides sweeping an array of common behavior under the prohibition, it would also allow for the fining of the homeless (who are generally homeless because they lack . . . money).

13 thoughts on “Westminster (London) Moves To Ban Lying Down in Public and Giving Away Food”

  1. Westminster is the most obvious place to inflict such a dispicable statute and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It’s like the old Western cliche “be out of town by sundown”

    Obviously there are benefits to such legislation as MP’s and Royals will no longer be offended by the sight of their subjects and constituents sleeping in doorways or protecting themselves from the inclement weather in some way.

    These same MPS and Royals will also no longer be hindered as they try to circumvent the queues at the soup kitchens on their way to the theatre or clubs

    Obviously the forthcoming Royal Wedding will look so much prettier on TV without all of those unkempt “subjects” cluttering up the doorways

    and let’s not forget that they do, in many cases, make themselves homeless, so they have nobody to blame but themselves

    Also, the powers that be, after a suitably short period, but certainly after “The Wedding” will proclaim it as a massive success, after all it will have significantly reduced the visable numbers of homeless in and around Westminster

    They will then feel justified in rolling it out throughout London, just in time for the Olympics, which will look so much prettier on TV without all of those unkempt “subjects” and “constituents” cluttering up the doorways

    Obviously the potential numbers of homeless people freezing or starving to death in the outlying countryside as they make their way to more welcoming parts of the country will be an acceptable compromise as long as it doesn’t detract from the London experience.

  2. The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
    – Anatole France

  3. What spiteful little snivelling shits these Conservative councillors are. They have in effect gone out of their way to make it a criminal offence to be homeless or to run a soup kitchen. Utterly inhuman.

  4. BillH76,

    However, he can cater his own meals if one never tires of fish sandwiches.

  5. Jeebus was a homeless person who went around accepting meals from strangers. I guess people wouldn’t be allowed to feed him, either, if he ever came back.

  6. This law is simply criminalizing homelessness. The US is no stranger to these tactics and have been enacting similar laws for years, decades in fact. I remember this kind of thing going on in St. Louis 20 years ago with laws that criminalized picking through trash bins. The law was repealed as I recall after an outcry from groups advocating for the homeless.

    It would seem to me that the way to deal with much of the problem, weather in the US or Britain, would be more jobs and affordable housing. That’s just me though.



    “City ordinances frequently serve as a prominent tool to criminalize homelessness. Of the 224 cities surveyed for our report:

    28% prohibit “camping” in particular public places in the city and 16% had city-wide prohibitions on “camping.”
    27% prohibit sitting/lying in certain public places.
    39% prohibit loitering in particular public areas and 16% prohibit loitering city-wide.
    43% prohibit begging in particular public places; 45% prohibit aggressive panhandling and 21% have city-wide prohibitions on begging.”

    The Constitution and laws that criminalize homelessness:

    “Criminalization measures also raise constitutional questions, and many of them violate the civil rights of homeless persons. Courts have found certain criminalization measures to be unconstitutional. For example:

    • When a city passes a law that places too many restrictions on begging, such restrictions may raise free speech concerns as courts have found begging to be
    protected speech under the First Amendment.

    • When a city destroys homeless persons’ belongings, such actions may violate the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

    • When a city enforces a law that imposes criminal penalties on a homeless person for engaging in necessary life activities such as sleeping in public, such a law
    could violate that person’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment if the person has nowhere else to perform the activity.

    • When a city passes a law that does not give people sufficient notice of what types of conduct it prohibits, or allows for arbitrary enforcement by law enforcement
    officials, such a law can be determined to be overly vague in violation of the Constitution. Courts have found certain loitering and vagrancy laws to be
    unconstitutionally vague. ”


  7. This English law is an atrocity. I have a great way to end homelessness in England. House all homeless people in Westminster Abbey.

  8. I thought we were the only country to be infected by the inhumane known as the Republican Party but after reading this and taking into account the people who like to dismember women in the Arab nations, the racists who have set up ghettos in France, the mass murders in Africa … I realize that diseased hatred of their fellow man is not just confined to the Republican Party here … it is world wide. What a relief … we are not alone …

  9. HenMan,

    You and I seem to hold the same opinion when it comes to that two-headed beast known as President Reagan …

  10. During the reign of Nancy Reagan and Whatshisname, Nancy was famous for her program to end drug addiction called “Just Say No!”.

    It was rumored that she was also working on a program to end homelessness called, “Just Buy a House!”

  11. In plain English:

    1. Homeless? Get the hell out of here!

    2. Don’t feed the homeless, it only encourages them to keep on living.

    3. Allo,allo,allo! What’s all this then!

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