Newham

Newham has rude awakening for rough sleepers

27 January 2014 in Community safety and Health
Newham Council has served anti-social behaviour warnings on 28 people who were found sleeping rough in and around the shopping mall in Stratford.
The council, working with Newham Police, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and homeless support agency Thames Reach, has begun an operation codenamed Alabama, to deal with rough sleepers following complaints from residents and businesses.

During the operation’s first night-time patrols in late December and early January, council enforcement officers handed out notices to the sleepers warning that what they were doing was not safe and their behaviour was causing or likely to cause “harassment, alarm or distress to the local community”.

The notices warned that if they returned and further complaints were received about them, legal action could be taken against them in the form of an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). At the same time the council also offered access to specialist support services.

Councillor Unmesh Desai, executive member for crime and anti-social behaviour, said: “Residents do not regard sleeping, drinking, urinating or taking drugs on the streets and using threatening or violent behaviour as an acceptable way of life. We will not tolerate it and will take action wherever we are able to reduce anti-social behaviour and crime linked to rough sleeping.

“In addition these individuals are in an increasingly vulnerable position in terms of their health and safety. Through Operation Alabama we will continue working with support agencies to offer help to rough sleepers to find a way off the streets.”

Of the 28 individuals identified, 11 received offers from the council and Thames Reach of help with hostel accommodation and substance misuse. One person was arrested by the UKBA and detained as an overstayer and four others were told to report to UKBA offices. Two people refused specialist help with returning to their own countries. Two people were arrested and detained by police on outstanding warrants.

Residents wanting to report anti-social behaviour can visit the council’s website at www.newham.gov.uk or call 020 8430 2000.