Rogues and vagabonds
People wandering abroad will be diverted into positive pathways
The Vagrancy Act 1824 celebrates its 200th anniversary next year. Who can fail to admire legislation that declares “every person wandering abroad and lodging in any barn or outhouse… and not giving a good account of himself or herself” to be a “rogue and vagabond” — or, in the case of a repeat offender, an “incorrigible rogue”?
Parliament seems to have thought that there was no place in the modern law for “every petty chapman or pedlar wandering abroad” or “every common prostitute wandering in the public streets… and behaving in a riotous or indecent manner”. It repealed the Vagrancy Act last year on the understanding that the repeal would not be brought into effect until there was something to put in its place. That replacement is to be found in the government’s criminal justice bill, which will have its second reading debate in the Commons on Tuesday.
This is the third in a series of pieces for my paying subscribers on selected aspects of the bill.