Police forced a homeless woman into the cold because rich people ‘didn’t want her dossing near them’

Homeless person sleeping near a cash point
Steve Topple

On Tuesday 27 February, police in Croydon reportedly moved a homeless woman onto the streets from a car park corridor where she was sleeping. According to LBC, the woman said the police told her it was because “people pay a lot of money to live in them flats and they don’t really want people… dossing in the corridor”.

“People pay a lot of money”

LBC‘s Rachael Venables spent Tuesday night with homelessness charity Nightwatch in Croydon, Greater London. While she was out with the charity, she met a homeless woman called Jo. She told Venables she had been sleeping in the corridor of the Q car park in the town when three police officers told her to leave. She said:

I was in the corridor of Q car park and three police officers kicked me out.

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[They] told me that people pay a lot of money to live in them flats and they don’t really want people, like, just dossing in the corridor.

All I said to them is it’s freezing out there. So they must be nice people. And that was it. I just got up and left. But it just seems like whenever I find places like that, I do get kicked out. It’s too cold at the moment.

Leaving messages

Nightwatch told LBC that it tries to get help from the council for homeless people and rough sleepers:

They tried a SNAP [Support Needs and Assessment Placing] team in Croydon and left a message, they tried Streetlink but… all of these things you leave messages. Five to ten years ago, you could ring the council… and they would get somewhere when we had severe weather. People would be put in a B&B; that just doesn’t happen now. You just can’t get through to anybody now to get help.

The Met Police said:

Whilst it would be wrong to comment on individual cases the issue of begging and rough sleeping is an issue across many areas of the UK. Police and Partners work together to support those sleeping rough whilst balancing the needs of the wider community.

Support is offered by the local authority and many local charities with shelters and rest centres located in Croydon… The local police teams have been conducting patrols looking to signpost any rough sleepers found to agencies who can help them prior to and during this cold weather.

Rising numbers of homeless people

The number of homeless people and rough sleepers has been rising over recent years.

For example, the number of rough sleepers rose by 169% between 2010 and 2017. As The Canary previously reported, figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (formerly the Department for Communities and Local Government) showed that:

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

Also, on 30 September 2017:

  • The number of households in temporary accommodation was the highest it’s been since 2007.
  • The number of families with children in temporary accommodation hit its highest levels since 2008.
  • The number of children in temporary accommodation is at its highest levels since 2007.

In Croydon, when Venables asked Jo if it was a “matter of life or death” for her, she replied “yes”. Venables said Jo left with “tears pouring down her face”.

Featured image via Mark Stevenson/Flickr

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