One Facebook post from the police shows the despair of homeless people in the UK

Homeless Man
Steve Topple

A police force revealed in a social media post that a homeless man intentionally tried to get himself arrested. It was seemingly an attempt to have somewhere to stay for the night. And his actions sum up the crisis of homelessness and rough sleeping that’s sweeping the UK.

Utter despair

On 22 February, City Centre Greater Manchester Police (GMP) wrote on Facebook that a homeless man had thrown a fire extinguisher through an office window. As GMP said, the man:

wanted to be in a Police cell tonight instead of being on the streets. This just goes to show how tough life on the streets must be if someone is willing to do this for a bed for the night.

GMP Homeless

As Manchester Evening News reported the man allegedly went into the reception area of a building on Miller Street. The article also detailed how rough sleeping in Greater Manchester has gone up 42% in the past 12 months. There’s been a 15% rise nationally. But these figures don’t show the full extent of the crisis sweeping the UK.


As The Canary previously reported, at Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on 13 December 2017 Theresa May effectively lied about homelessness figures in the UK. She said that:

Statutory homelessness peaked under the Labour government and is down by over 50% since then. It’s this government that is delivering for people on housing.

But as The Canary‘s Frea Lockley noted, May:

used inaccurate and ‘misleading‘ figures about homelessness. And because the government was ordered not to use these figures by the UK Statistics Authority, May knew that they were not accurate. In other words, she knowingly misled parliament; or lied.

And the truth is much worse.

Failing homeless people

To start with, the number of rough sleepers rose by 169% between 2010 and 2017.

Figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) also show that [pdf, p1]:

  • Between 1 July and 30 September 2017, there were 15,290 statutorily homeless households, up 2% from 14,930 on the same quarter of last year.
  • On 30 September 2017, the number of households in temporary accommodation was 79,190, up 6% from 74,750 at the same date last year, and up 65% on the low of 48,010 on 31 December 2010.

Also, the number of households in temporary accommodation was the highest it’s been since 2007 [xls, table 782, row 15, column D]. And under May’s watch, the number of families with children in temporary accommodation hit its highest levels since 2008 [xls, table 782, column F – row 52 vs row 16]. The DCLG also revealed:

The fact that people would prefer to be arrested rather than sleep rough is a damning indictment of the UK. But it is also a catastrophic failing of successive Conservative-led governments that more and more people have so little left in life that they have to call the streets their home.

Get Involved!

– Support grassroots groups the Museum of HomelessnessStreets KitchenFocus E15 and Greater Manchester Housing Action.

Featured image via Garry Knight/Flickr

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