Homeless people could be fined up to £1,000 for sleeping in doorways near popular tourist spots, under new rules launched by a London council.
Homelessness charities have condemned the move, saying that it turns rough sleepers - who are often escaping lives of abuse - into criminals.
Hackney Council’s Public Space Protection Order bans sleeping in public places - offenders are handed a £100 fixed penalty, which can rise to £1,000 in court.
The council said enforcement action 'is always the last option'.
Matt Downie, of homelessness charity Crisis, told The Guardian: ‘Rough sleepers deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance – they may have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse.
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‘Those who sleep on the streets are extremely vulnerable and often do not know where to turn for help.
‘These individuals need additional support to leave homelessness behind, and any move to criminalise sleeping rough could simply create additional problems to be overcome.'