New figures show that there has been a 28% increase in the number of people sleeping rough in London.
The Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) has released what Crisis states is the most comprehensive data available about the number of rough sleepers in the capital.
The data reports that 3,985 people slept rough across the capital from July to September 2019. This is a 28% increase from the same period last year. The figures also worryingly show that 2,069 of these people were new rough sleepers, which is a rise of 50%.
The definition of someone having been seen rough sleeping is described in CHAIN’s reports as someone who has “been encountered by a commissioned outreach worker bedded down on the street, or in other open spaces or locations not designed for habitation”. This includes doorways, stairwells, parks or derelict buildings.
The report doesn’t include those who fall into the category of “hidden homeless”. This refers to those “sofa surfing” or living in squats.
Crisis Chief Executive Jon Sparkes has responded to this data: “It’s simply unforgivable that we have anyone sleeping on the streets in our society, so to see such a sharp rise is deeply distressing especially when we know that homelessness can be ended.
“No one should be forced to face incredible dangers every day because they cannot afford to keep a roof over their head. To make matters worse many people live under the constant threat of being persecuted under the archaic Vagrancy Act, which makes it a crime just to sleep rough or beg.
“This inhumane treatment cannot go on. It’s crucial that all parties commit to scrapping the Vagrancy Act so that we can see the back of this law once and all. Because in 21st century Britain no one should be criminalised because they don’t have a safe place to call home.”