Am on my way to Derby with an investor for this film before driving to London to meet up with some of the supporters of the project but I just had to post this after Jason Newell someone who as done so much for the marketing of our Homelessness film and who sent me the details of something so shocking which am sad to report but I’ve just had to and like me am sure this will stun you.
There is a school of thought in politics that the best way of stopping people doing something is to make doing it as unpleasant as possible. If smokers have to stand in the rain to have a quick fag, they’re more likely to quit; if signing on is about as pleasant as having a molar pulled out with some pliers, you’re less likely to claim benefits; and so on.
The reason we mention this is because, over in Redbridge, the local police have decided to apply this philosophy to homelessness.
A shocking story in this week’s Ilford Recorder tells of police swooping in on a group of men sleeping rough, and confiscating what few material possessions they had.
“They were just taking the sleeping bags and chucking out everything,” the paper quotes one of the men, Adam Jaskowiak, as saying. “I asked to keep it and the food, but they said no.”
The food parcels, incidentally, had been donated by the public.
The intention seems to have been to move them on, though where to is not exactly clear (some other police force’s patch, we suppose). After all, as Rita Chadha, chief executive of the local Refugee and Migrant Forum, told the paper, “There’s no logic in this. It’s not as though if they take someone’s sleeping bag they will automatically walk into a house.”
For what it’s worth, the local chief inspector John Fish claims the policy was intended to “reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers. This includes the need for us to assist in the removal of temporary structures, tents, and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations.”
Because obviously, these men were just having a laugh being homeless. Now the police have made sure it isn’t fun any more they’ll go off and buy a nice semi, and eat in restaurants like normal people.
You can read the Ilford Recorder’s full story by clicking on the HOTSPOT NEWS image
Updated with reaction from Leslie Morphy from the Homeless Charity ‘Crisis’ below
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said the number of people sleeping on the streets in London had increased since 2008. “Due to the pressures of the economic downturn and cuts, particularly to housing benefit, rough sleeping in London has risen by 43%. Almost 6,000 people slept on the streets of the capital at some point last year,” she said.
“Though we don’t know all the details of what happened in Ilford, it is hard to see how removing food and sleeping bags from rough sleepers is going to help anyone. What homeless people really need is access to services and support to help them break the cycle of homelessness – something all the more vital at a time of rising homelessness.”
- Met police under fire for seizing rough sleepers’ possessions (guardian.co.uk)