Policing Public Space: The experiences of people sleeping rough

Years of research has shown that people sleeping rough tend to be over-policed, particularly when they use and enjoy public places. Policies such as The Protocol for Homeless People in Public Places emphasise their rights, but in practice, many feel they are too-often the subject of unfair or unwarranted police attention.  
Our new report, co-authored with Homelessness NSW, records the experiences of people sleeping rough in inner Sydney. It includes shocking 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 law and policy experts, and consumer voices including: 

  • 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

Enquiries:  If you have any requirements that will assist you to participate in this event, please contact Ann Sloan via email [email protected] or call (02) 8898 6523. 


About the speakers

Madeleine Humphreys

Madeleine is completing a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UNSW. She is a former PIAC StreetCare Project Officer and is particularly interested in the over-policing of vulnerable groups and its implications for the rule of law in Australia.

Rebecca Warfield

Rebecca is a housing and homelessness advocate who has been a member of PIAC’s StreetCare program since 2019. She is passionate about reform and using her own lived experience to advocate for change, especially to help women who are forced to sleep rough.

Professor Luke McNamara

Luke is Co-Director of the Centre for Crime, Law and Justice at UNSW. He teaches and conducts research on criminal law and criminalisation, with a focus on law-making and law enforcement practices that produce forms of over-criminalisation for people already experiencing disadvantage.

Samantha Sowerwine

Samantha is Head of Community Programs and Principal Lawyer at Justice Connect in the Homeless Law program at Justice Connect (VIC), leading the organisation’s advocacy work in relation to the criminalisation of homelessness. Sam presented on the issue at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Homelessness in 2019.  

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