Homeless people in Warminster say the new laws put in place, which locals claim make criminals out of rough sleepers, are a “travesty” and an “insult” to those on the streets.

Wiltshire Council recently introduced a public space protection order, intended to protect the public from anti-social behaviour after a rise in alcohol abuse.

Many residents have called for the order to be removed, claiming it makes criminals out of the homeless and allows authorities to move rough sleepers on.

Paul Spill, who has been homeless for eight years, sells the Big Issue in the town, and is outraged at the introduction of the law.

Mr Spill said: “It is an absolute travesty that these laws have been put in place and is an insult to homeless people like myself. I work whenever I can to do my bit for the community and I do receive a lot of support from people in the community who don’t have a problem with me at all. The fact that we are now being treated like this is appalling.”

Leader of Wiltshire Council Jane Scott said: “The claim that Wiltshire Council is trying to criminalise rough sleeping is totally misleading and unacceptable. We have not criminalised rough sleeping, and have no intention of doing so. We work extremely hard with our partners to address the issues that cause people to become homeless, and we recognise that issuing them with fines would not solve their situation or address the issues.

“The order helps manage anti-social behaviour, which can include alcohol or drug-related crime. The orders also help to identify those people who would benefit from support, such as access to the Wiltshire substance misuse service.”