The Tory leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is reported to have demanded police use legal powers to clear homeless people ahead of the royal wedding at Windsor Castle in May.
Simon Dudley, the council’s Conservative leader, wrote to Thames Valley police this week seeking action against “aggressive begging and intimidation” and “bags and detritus” accumulating on the streets, The Guardian reports.
The letter, seen by The Guardian, is said to follow follows a series of tweets sent by Dudley while on a skiing holiday in the USA over Christmas, in which he referred to “an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy in Windsor”.
He tweeted that he would write to Thames Valley police “asking them to focus on dealing with this before the #RoyalWedding”.
Dudley’s letter, dated 2 January and addressed to Anthony Stansfield, the police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, thanks the police for protecting the community and lists the council’s support services for vulnerable residents, including an emergency night shelter, a drug and alcohol support
“Homelessness is completely unacceptable in a compassionate community such as ours,” he says.
He goes on to say that the council has evidence that “a large number of adults that are begging in Windsor are not in fact homeless, and if they are homeless they are choosing to reject all support services … In the case of homelessness amongst this group, it is therefore a voluntary choice.”
Dudley also raised concerns about “the quantities of bags and detritus that those begging are accumulating and leaving on our pavements, at times unattended … this is a significant security concern, especially given the national importance of Windsor.
“Obviously, the level of tourist interest is set to multiply with the Royal Wedding in May 2018, and there are increased concerns from our residents about their safety. The whole situation also presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light.”
He suggests that Thames Valley police use their powers under existing laws – citing the 1824 Vagrancy Act and the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act – “including implementing criminal behaviour orders for the numerous offenders”. The Vagrancy Act criminalises rough sleeping and begging.
Dudley’s letter is copied to Theresa May, who is MP for Maidenhead, and the home secretary, Amber Rudd.