Vagrancy in Wales, in 1824 and 2012

I am now catching up on some Olympic news I wanted to write about. I have a big stack of stuff which has accumulated from before and during my little vacation to Oregon.

Nestled among the stack was a news story out of Wales. Olympic events weren’t just limited to London. Venues in Scotland and Wales were used as well.

A retailer in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, was concerned about the local homeless being a bit too noticeable during the Games, so he passed on the idea of using a law from 1824 that’s still on the books.

The history behind the law is fascinating. The 188 year-old law was implemented to combat a growing number of displaced people in the United Kingdom following the Napoleonic Wars. Anyone deemed to be a “rogue” or “vagabond” sleeping outside could be jailed for up to three months.

The gentleman thought it’d be a good idea to round up the homeless and put them in jail for the duration of the Olympics. The response wasn’t supportive, and I don’t think any such plan was organized.

The law does get me to thinking about the situation in Europe during the Napoleonic era. How many people were displaced by the wars? How many migrated? How many of these “vagrants” in the UK were foreigners? How many were veterans of the British army and navy?



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