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Tough love aims to end rough sleeping

Tough love aims to end rough sleeping (Refuge / Emergency Accommodation)

by administrator @, Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 17:40

Rough sleepers who refuse to leave London’s streets could be sectioned or deported, when necessary, in a new ‘tough love’ approach agreed by senior housing figures.

The methods are being endorsed by a delivery board chaired by Richard Blakeway, the London mayor’s director of housing, which includes senior healthcare and immigration officials.

Jeremy Swain, panel member and chief executive of homelessness charity Thames Reach, said: ‘Where we think someone is unwell we will try to get them to voluntarily go to a hostel but ultimately we can have them sectioned. This happened in north London recently with someone who had been rough sleeping for a number of years. If there is a foreign national with a criminal history, they will be deported.’

The board was set up to help clear the capital’s streets of rough sleepers ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games and meet the government’s target of eliminating street sleeping the same year.

Mr Swain revealed its plans as the Communities and Local Government department published figures showing another drop in homelessness registrations.

The total number of households accepted as homeless fell 32 per cent between April and June this year, compared with the same period the previous year, official figures revealed.

The rough sleeping street count fell by 4 per cent from 483 in January 2008 to 464 in May 2009.

But Leslie Morphy, chief executive of charity Crisis, said the figures were misleading. ‘Rough sleeping figures of just 464 nationwide do not reflect the true scale of the problem,’ she added. ‘The figure is just an aggregation of snapshots of who happens to be found on the night of a count. We know in London alone in 2008 at least 3,000 people slept rough at some point.’

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