6,518 people were found guilty of rough sleeping under the Vagrancy Act (1824) across England and Wales between 2014 and 2017, the Liberal Democrats have revealed.
The figures from the Ministry of Justice, uncovered by a Liberal Democrat Freedom of Information request, show a total of 6,518 'offenders' were found guilty under the Vagrancy Act (1824) in what the Lib Dems have described as 'chilling' and 'archaic'.
In the last four years, 1,836 rough sleepers were convicted in the London Metropolitan area with 646 in the West Midlands, 592 in Merseyside and 441 Greater Manchester.
On Monday, it was revealed that nearly 600 homeless people died on Britain's streets in 2017. The highest number was in Manchester where 21 died.
The news follows weeks of bitter rows in Manchester after a proposed update to the 'Public Space Protection Order' was quickly and widely slammed as a 'Homeless Tax' after it was revealed the new powers would allow rough sleepers taking shelter in tents or doorways to be fined up to £1,000.
The Lib Dems say the new statistics coupled with the Homeless Tax set a "chilling and dangerous precedent".
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Greg Stanton said:
"The Vagrancy Act and the Homeless Tax set a chilling and dangerous precedent that says one person is less worthy than another.
"No amount of fining, imprisonment or court orders are going to stop people sleeping rough if they have nowhere to go. We need to stop victimising people under archaic laws from two centuries ago, get them off the streets and into homes.
"Only the Liberal Democrats will put an end to wasteful spending, invest more money than ever before into tackling the causes of homelessness and build enough homes to end this injustice.