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Community Safety

Reaching out to rough sleepers

An entrance sign to Archbishop’s Park, Waterloo which was visited by the Lambeth council led team

A Lambeth council led push saw a team hit parks and streets around Waterloo to help get rough sleepers off the streets.

More than 20 homeless people were spoken to and their details taken on Tuesday morning (Sept25) during the joint action.

The team included Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet member for Public Protection, ThamesReach the homeless charity representatives, the police, South Bank Patrol wardens and council staff.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet member for Public Protection, said: “We are campaigning to end rough sleeping in the borough.

“This morning’s effort illustrates how we are helping these very vulnerable people break the lifestyles which have resulted in them sleeping on our streets.

“These are people at their lowest ebb and this is a problem we need to end for the wellbeing of the whole borough.”

The first stop was Archbishop’s Park next to Lambeth Palace in Waterloo where seven people from Poland and Lithuania were sleeping on the ground around covered benches.

William Norman, lead manager at Thames Reach in Stockwell and Neil Haggertay from the council’s community safety team woke the rough sleepers.

They were supported by PC Ben Ings and PC Katie Meah from the Kennington Local Policing Team to ensure their safety.

The eastern Europeans were spoken to about their employment and migrations status and given details of support services they could access.

Mr Haggerty said: “We try and use a balance of enforcement and welfare to encourage people to seek help to get them off the streets.

“We have also been working with the UK Border Agency and our other partners to target central and eastern Europeans who are not exercising their treaty right and sleeping rough.

“Some are street drinkers who have been begging and acting aggressively towards the general public, so it is important we tackle this issue.”

Treaty rights require migrants from the EU to prove they are either seeking work, or in employment after being in the UK for more than three-months. If no proof can be provided the migrants can face deportation.

An earlier operation on August 21 with the UK Border Agency resulted in five people being sent for an immigration assessment and two people being deported.

Thames Reach is contracted by Lambeth to provide outreach services to rough sleepers and Mr Norman said his team were out every day.

He said: “It’s challenging work, and over the last 12-months across London there has been an increase in the numbers of people sleeping rough.

“But Lambeth does have very good services offering credible support and a robust response to the problem.”

The action was taken as part of Lambeth Council’s Safer Communities campaign to highlight what we’re doing to make the borough a safer place.

The campaign will also show how we are giving people in the borough more control over the council’s work with the police to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

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