Mark Rathbone assesses the effectiveness of measures taken in Tudor England to meet the problems of poverty and vagrancy.

In February 2004 a new law came into force to get tough with vagrants. The use of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders was part of a concerted attempt to drive beggars off the streets. In central London, Westminster Council began a crackdown on vagrants, taking fingerprints and DNA samples from people found begging. 'Beggars identified as repeat offenders or those that are active around cashpoints,' said a council spokesman, 'will be considered for post-conviction ASBOs if their behaviour continues.'

The methods used in the twenty-first century may be more sophisticated, but in the Tudor era too vagrancy was seen as a social problem needing tough solutions.

The Reign of Henry VII

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