I have written many articles on this blog that focus on the power of social media and this is going to be another one. This week, Londoners have been up in arms about the proposals by Hackney Council to introduce fines against the homeless.
As part of a PSPO (Public Space Protection Order) police would be given the power to hand out £100 to rough sleepers, fines that if unpaid could quickly rise to if unpaid £1,000 and would effectively end up criminalising some of society’s most vulnerable souls. How many homeless people do you know that have £100 quid floating about in their back pocket?
When I first came across an article about this move on my Facebook newsfeed, my initial reaction was something along the lines of “Seriously, what the…!!” I thought, this can’t be true, it must be some sort of spoof story or an article by someone who had their facts all fuddled, that’s how ridiculously confounding it felt to me. However, after a little bit of research, I discovered that unfortunately it was true, Hackney Council really were introducing legislation to allow fines to be doled out to rough sleepers.
Those of you who know me, or regularly read this or BODO Planet’s blog, will know that homeless is an issue that I myself and BODO as an organisation, feel very passionately about. Hearing about the plan to introduce these fines really made my blood boil and in fact this week’s BODO Planet was going to cover a story drawing people’s attention to the PSPO and the efforts of the public to have it revoked.
Luckily however, the social conscience and social media won the battle against this ridiculous legislation in a matter of days. A Change.org petition started by LSE law graduate Zahira Patel gained 80,000 signatures almost instantaneously and after much public pressure from members of the public and celebrities who took to twitter and other social media outlets to express their disgust, Hackney announced that all references to rough sleepers in the PSPO would be removed!
It is a fine example of how social media really can be a formidable force in the power against injustice.