The use of enforcement to combat 'street culture' in England: An ethical approach?

S Fitzpatrick, S Johnsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Within a social justice ethical framework, the use of ‘enforcement’ measures to prevent people from engaging in ‘street activities’, such as begging and street drinking, can only be morally justified if such initiatives can be shown to benefit the welfare of the vulnerable ‘street users’ affected. It may be hypothesized that this is unlikely, and such measures are bound to be regressive in their effects, but in fact evidence from an evaluation conducted in five locations across England suggests otherwise. Drawing on a normative framework which engages with both moral and political philosophy, this paper argues that the motivations and impacts associated with enforcement are more ethically complex, and less punitive, than they may at first appear. It demonstrates that the use of enforcement measures, when accompanied by appropriate support, can in fact lead to beneficial outcomes for some individuals involved in begging or street drinking in some situations. The outcomes for other members of the street population can, however, be very negative, and are highly unpredictable, such that the use of enforcement is always a high-risk strategy, even if ethically justifiable in certain circumstances.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)284-302
    Number of pages19
    JournalEthics and Social Welfare
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs)
    • Begging
    • Enforcement
    • Rough Sleeping
    • Social Justice
    • Street Drinking
    • Street Homelessness


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