A group of homeless people were kicked out of public tunnels next to the Houses of Parliament. One man claimed he was told by a police officer that an MP had complained about their presence.
Two of the men who had been sleeping in the tunnels to keep warm told The Independent that Metropolitan Police officers ejecting them had cited section four of the Vagrancy Act 1824 – the 19th century law which criminalises rough sleeping and begging.
Cops “moving along” the homeless for no defensible reason is usually a dog-bites-man story. This one is different, the reporter went on to explain, because there’s an uptick in homelessness in Westminster, and also because there’s an ongoing campaign to repeal the Vagrancy Act. Unmentioned but probably relevant: the area is saturated with reporters.
The cops won’t confirm or deny that a politician had summoned them there, but it’s plausible. The article also mentioned the time a few months ago when a homeless guy died there, where a politician could have seen the body! (shock! horror!), and I can easily imagine a pol using the police to keep poor people out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.
The headline also refers to this bit:
One man said a police officer had also mentioned clearing the tunnels, which connect Westminster Tube station to an entrance to parliament, “so the MPs can get to work”.
This is a mediocre example of the transparent pretext, for the three of us who appreciate that sort of thimg. The idea that what happens in the Palace of Westminster can be called “work” is comedy gold, though — unless some MPs were commuting to the second jobs they have to make ends meet.