The British town of Poole will begin issuing Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), carrying fines of £100, starting April 16 in an effort to curb "anti-social and nuisance behaviours.”
Beggars as well as homeless individuals sleeping in car parks or doorways could be subject to the penalty.
The policy, which also covers drinking alcohol and leaving unattended possessions in the street, is aimed at preventing and tackling anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder and protecting individuals and various communities from harm, the council said in a statement.
Nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition protesting the measure which has been heavily criticised by local residents and the Bishop of Sherborne.
"Fining people who are homeless and sleeping on the street is one of the most cruel and pointless policies I have ever seen. Why criminalise people for being poor and vulnerable? We need to focus on the support and housing services that homeless people need."
But Poole councillor Karen Rampton insisted the measure is not intended to target the homeless and said efforts to assist those who are vulnerable will continue:
“The council proactively works with individuals to encourage them to use the full range of support available from the council and local charities. Whether this is working with individuals who have a problem with drugs or alcohol, supporting individuals into housing, offering a hot meal and healthcare or providing intensive daily support to enable an individual to sustain a tenancy, we will continue to engage and support wherever possible our most vulnerable members of our community.”