BEGGARS are to be targeted under new Tory plans to crack down on “anti-social behaviour”, sparking accusations they are "demonising the desperate". 

New legislation announced in the King’s Speech on Tuesday – the Government’s wish list for bills it wants to pass this parliamentary term – will include measures to tackle “persistent, nuisance, and organised begging”, according to Downing Street.

It is not thought the new measures will come into force in Scotland, as the criminal justice system and policing are devolved to Holyrood.

They have come in for sharp criticism, with the Conservatives accused of being "cruel and unfeeling". 

Christine Jardine, the LibDems' Scottish affairs spokesperson said: "Rishi Sunak’s Conservative party are more focused on demonising the desperate than they are on tackling any of the actual problems that the country faced.

“A serious government would be setting out plans to tackle long waits for healthcare, the cost-of-living crisis and local rivers ruined by sewage.

“Instead all Rishi Sunak had to offer was cheap gimmicks and reheated policies.

“Stick a fork in the Conservative party, they’re done.”

Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Greens' equality spokesperson added: "First it was small boats and asylum seekers, then benefit claimants and homeless people, now it is beggars. Who will be in the Tory’s sights next - the elderly, foodbanks?

“Where Scotland looks to lend a helping hand, the Tories are beating people with a stick.

"It is further evidence of how under this cruel and unfeeling Westminster government the rich get richer while the vulnerable are abandoned.”

The new measures come after Home Secretary Suella Braverman appeared to confirm a report in the Financial Times that the Government was also seeking to prevent homeless people from sleeping rough in tents.

READ MORE: Suella Braverman targets ‘nuisance’ homeless tents on public streets

She claimed doing so was a “lifestyle choice” in widely criticised comments, from which others in the Cabinet sought to distance themselves.

Briefing notes on the new Criminal Justice Bill say the Government wants to “crack down on the crimes and anti-social behaviour that blight communities”.

To do this, they will introduce measures in England to expand police’s powers to test people for drugs on arrest, toughening punishments to those who sell “dangerous weapons” to children and creating a new criminal offence of possessing a “bladed article with the intent to cause harm”.

The bill will also compel criminals to attend their sentencing hearing – something brought into the spotlight by serial killer nurse Lucy Letby’s refusal to do so at the end of her trial.

Other measures include making the murder of a partner at the end of a relationship an aggravating factor in sentencing, criminalising the sharing of “intimate images” and expanding the offence of encouraging or assisting self harm.