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Begging, Drunkenness And Prostitution

Volume 929: debated on Monday 4 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were imprisoned for simple drunkenness in the last year for which figures are available; and how many are currently in prison.

None, because the maximum penalty for simple drunkenness is a fine. Some of the 2,463 persons received during 1976 into prison in default of payment of a fine for drunkenness may have been fined for simple drunkenness, but it would not be possible without disproportionate cost to ascertain the precise number.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) men and (b) women and (c) young persons, are currently in prison for begging or sleeping rough; how many of these were imprisoned without the option of a fine; and what was the sentence in each case.

On 30th June, 1976, there were 17 people in prison for begging or sleeping out. All were adult males, 13 had been sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine, five for three months, five for one month and one each for four months, two months and 14 days.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to decriminalise the offenders of (a) simple drunkenness (b) begging and sleeping rough and (c) soliciting by prostitutes.

We have no present proposal for legislation which would make it no longer a criminal offence to be drunk in a highway or other public place; action on this matter would need to be carefully weighed, because of the implications for public expenditure. Offences of begging and sleeping rough, and soliciting by prostitutes, have recently been reviewed by the Working Party on Vagrancy and Street Offences, whose report, as announced on publication, the Government have accepted in principle. We propose to take a legislative opportunity in due course to implement its recommendations.