2 November 2018
As temperatures last night dropped to freezing point, a video has emerged of a Lambeth Council employee removing the sleeping bag and other belongings of a rough sleeper.
The shocking footage shows the Council officer collecting up the sleeping bag and umbrella whilst stating that the homeless man should have taken his belongings with him.
Whilst shelters across the country prepare for an influx of homeless and vulnerable people over winter, some local authorities are facing allegations of seeking to criminalise rough sleeping. In 2015 Hackney became the first council to include homeless people in their antisocial behaviour order. There are now concerns that Lambeth Council is moving in the same direction with a cabinet member defending the removal of the homeless person’s items.
In a statement, Cllr Paul Gadsby, Cabinet member for Housing at Lambeth, has claimed that:
“In this case, an individual had been sleeping at this location every night for four weeks.
"As with all rough sleepers, we spoke to the gentlemen continually and offered him support into local hostel accommodation so that he did not need to sleep outside. However, he was adamant that he wants no support or help.
“Council officers said several times that if he continues to leave possessions in a public park, they would be removed. That was enacted today.”
Cllr Jonathan Bartley, Leader of the Green Group at Lambeth, has written to the Leader of Lambeth Council calling for an urgent investigation into the event. Cllr Bartley commented:
“Rough sleepers are some of the most vulnerable people in society. Last night the temperature in Lambeth dropped to close to freezing. To take someone’s only source of warmth is draconian and cruel.”
“Lambeth Council should not be seeking to justify this action and there should be an immediate and impartial investigation into the seizure by someone who has not already gone on record defending what has happened. The Council must not make Lambeth a hostile environment for rough sleepers.”