Pursuing Social Justice or Social Cohesion?: Coercion in Street Homelessness Policies in England
SUZANNE FITZPATRICK a1andANWEN JONES a2 a1 Centre for Housing Policy, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, Tel: 01904 321475, Fax: 01904 321481 email: email@example.com a2 Centre for Housing Policy, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD
This article contends that the New Labour government's current policies on street homelessness in England prioritise ‘social cohesion’ over ‘social justice’ objectives. While the government has implemented substantial improvements in services for street homeless people in recent years, and has achieved a significant reduction in the numbers sleeping rough, a strong ‘social control’ emphasis has now emerged in this policy agenda, as those remaining on the streets are increasingly viewed as an ‘anti-social behaviour’ problem. The article argues that coercive or forceful measures aimed at street homeless people cannot be justified from a social justice perspective, unless it can be demonstrated that they have a positive impact on the welfare of this marginalised group. The evidence presently available, although not definitive, indicates that such measures are more likely to undermine than promote the well-being of street homeless people.