Forum: Policing Public Space

Join policy, legal and consumer experts for an important lunchtime forum about the policing of homelessness in public space, as we launch a new joint report that details the experiences of people sleeping rough in Sydney.

The over-policing of homelessness in public spaces has been raised by advocates and consumers alike as a significant contributor to the criminalisation of people experiencing homelessness. Policies such as The Protocol for Homeless People in Public Places emphasise their rights, but in practice, many feel they are the subject of unfair or unwarranted police attention. 

Our new report, co-authored with Homelessness NSW, includes disturbing personal stories of people being unfairly moved on, searched, and subjected to excessive force by the police.

It highlights how these negative interactions with police can be an important barrier to people enjoying their rights and engaging with services to secure housing and achieve their goals.  

What are the changes to legislation, policy and practice needed to ensure the human rights of people experiencing homelessness are respected and protected? How do we continue moving from a ‘law and order’ model to a model of care? 

Join us for the launch of ‘Policing Public Space: The experiences of people sleeping rough’, with Madeleine Humphreys, lead author, followed by a ‘solutions-focused’ discussion with panellists:

  • Rebecca Warfield, lived experience advocate, StreetCare, PIAC
  • Samantha Sowerwine, Principal Lawyer, Justice Connect (VIC)
  • Professor Luke McNamara, Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Law and Justice at UNSW

Event Details

When:  Tuesday 18 May 2021, 1pm-2pm AEST

Where:  Zoom meeting access details to be provided prior to the event

RSVP:  Register your attendance via Eventbrite

Kira Levin, Managing Solicitor, PIAC’s Homeless Persons’ Legal Service:

‘The over-policing of people sleeping rough in public spaces contributes to the criminalisation of homelessness and can prevent people from getting the support they need.’

‘We need to stop characterising rough sleeping as a law and order issue and start taking an approach that recognises and respects the rights of people experiencing homelessness and provides opportunities for them to access services and support.

Madeleine Humphreys, Lead Author:

‘The people we spoke to during this research all disclosed significant levels of police involvement in their lives. Too often, they told me stories of being left feeling humiliated, isolated, and hopeless after contact with police. The overwhelming majority of people sleeping rough are suffering from physical and mental health issues or trauma. A policing response to homelessness is inappropriate, ineffective, and causes significant harm to the most vulnerable in our society.’

Katherine McKernan, Chief Executive Officer, Homelessness NSW:

‘For too long we have known that people experiencing homelessness are over policed. This report allows them to explain in their own words the impact this has on their lives.

Over-policing is but one cost of homelessness that safe, secure, supported housing would diminish.’

MEDIA CONTACT: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce 0478 739 280.

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