Doncaster: Homeless man prosecuted for sleeping rough.


A homeless charity has hit out at a decision to prosecute a man for sleeping rough in what is thought to be the first criminal prosecution of its kind in Doncaster.

Christopher Clinton Wilkinson – who was said to be sleeping in the woodland surrounding a hospital because it was the only place he felt safe – was hauled before Doncaster magistrates.

Representatives from Doncaster-based charity The M25 Housing and Support Group said using anti-social behaviour legislation to criminalise people sleeping rough was a ‘significant concern’.

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Wilkinson, aged 40, was given an absolute discharge after pleading guilty to failing to comply with a Community Protection Notice on October 5 – but told the offence would stay on his record.

 Prosecuting at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court, David Sheppard said it was the second time Wilkinson had been found sleeping in the grounds of St Catherine’s Hospital in Tickhill Road, Balby, after struggling to find accommodation.

Mitigating, James Gray said: “His situation is an unfortunate one.

“He suffers from mental health problems and is clearly out of the care of mental health services at the minute and not receiving any medication.

“He told the police he felt safer being in the grounds of the hospital sleeping rough than anywhere else.

“He was in his sleeping bag when police woke him up.”

Mr Gray said Wilkinson had struggled to find accommodation but was hoping to receive help from Doncaster Council and M25.

homes not jails

Pic © Heather Blockey

Community Protection Notices and Orders are issued under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act – legislation introduced last year to stop ongoing environmental anti-social behaviour.

Specialist housing advisor Vince Bell of M25 said: “It is of significant concern that the police and local authority are using what can only be described as Dickensian measures to tackle rough sleeping in Doncaster.

“Using anti-social behaviour legislation to address issues such as rough sleeping is not going to help but will hinder their situation.

“Dragging a vulnerable rough sleeper in front of the courts to give them a criminal record serves only to exacerbate their situation.

“This would appear to be a new mindset which undermines all the hard work M25 has done to dispel myths and convince communities that rough sleepers are not to be feared and can be supported to change their lives.”

Mr Bell said the police should be offering support to those who find themselves sleeping rough rather than criminalising them.

He added: “Considering the person in question suffered with mental health issues and was sleeping in the woods within the hospital grounds because it felt safe, then it would appear we have lost all sight of humanity and good sense.

“If you judge a society by the way it treats its most vulnerable then I believe we have failed in this instance.”

source: Doncaster Free Press

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17 Comments

  1. This is disgusting…and should be challenged to have the decision reversed. There is something morally wrong with giving any person a criminal record for being homeless and sleeping rough. This will only exacerbate the situation and should be outlawed. What’s required is that all councils need to put pressure on the government to provide care and refuge for these people…it is simply not humane!

  2. Time for mass sleeping rough. Block the magistrates courts with prosecutions and watch the police and la get their arses kicked, most deservedly so. Their actions are incomprehensible and straight out of Stalinist Russia farce.

  3. People with mental health problems like this need practical help not a criminal record shamefull of the council and the court for not throwing out the case and demanding the council act to help him.

  4. we have to stand up and be counted as humans how can we watch when this happends we need all english folk to stand up and be counted its in your hands stand up protest stop this injustice watching the news she wants to come home ,she made her bed

  5. I hope the police and magistrate who did this are proud of themselves- how the hell did they think this was going to help?

    • I find the disgusting condescending, patronising, descriptions of us, to try to snidely influence the public against us, usually by charities that milk us for high salaries, quite infuriating!

      But, this release, from the Conservative Party site, takes the biscuit of snide comments, whilst supporting us:

      “From Macleod through Spicer to Boris. The continuing story of the Conservative fight against homelessness…….This is an appeal to help those who no longer have any dignity and self-respect; the down and outs. We know that they are dirty and derelict. We do not expect you to admire them because of this. …….. and that they have nothing left to look forward to…. We call upon the talents, ideas and enthusiasm of people from all different prejudices and beliefs in a constructive attempt to tackle this growing urban problem.”

      It’s all in their final description of us: “problem”

      No mention of the facts, of why many of us are here, and that we have much self respect, for standing up against state wrong doing.

      Try the following, for some truth:

      https://disqus.com/by/roughsleeper/
      http://www.nottinghampost.com/people/RoughSleeper/profile.html
      https://id.theguardian.com/profile/roughsleeper
      https://www.dropbox.com/sh/duz668871eomxev/AACSaWAxoSRqbRLRNeB38sW5a?dl=0

      (8.9352 x 10K hours expertise, Boots on the ground, 3723 Days, @ 1.5095 pence/day)

  6. I am so angered by this. I don’t know how to help this man or if it is possible but I really want to. If anyone has any ideas or does want to organise a mass sleep out, I’ll be there.

  7. Disgraceful, Typical abuse of the Criminal justice system by Police who are paid to serve people. Homes and Limos for the immigrants, Criminal records for the vulnerable and total abuse of Power by an Outdated Government who don’t have a clue!

  8. im in shock,he was doing no harm at all asleep,why cant we look after our own homeless people before rehousing migrants,,this country has its prioritys all messed up,i think gareth is right a mass camping at the hospital or council,its about time we housed our homeless asap before anyone else.why carnt school halls be used at night time? let alone church halls??

  9. Pingback: Councils Declare War on Homeless People | Our Castle's Strength

  10. Representatives from Doncaster-based charity The M25 Housing and Support Group said using anti-social behaviour legislation to criminalise people sleeping rough was a ‘significant concern’.

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