Charities at odds over deportations of homeless eastern Europeans.
Crisis, which is famed for its support for rough sleepers at Christmas, has called on ministers to stop the policy, which is being challenged in the High Court by three people affected by it. However, other charities, including St Mungo’s, have been accused by migrant rights campaigners of “collaborating” with the authorities by sending their outreach workers on enforcement raids to ensure the rights of rough sleepers are being respected.
Matthew Downie, director of policy at Crisis, said that detention and deportation was “leading to terrible circumstances and in some cases tragic outcomes. He added: “The Home Office has not been able to tell us the scale or impact of this . . . Rounding people up to be deported takes no account of their vulnerability and why they might have been here in the first place. We think it constitutes an abuse of state power.”
St Mungo’s denied that it aids the deportation policy, but said: “Some local authorities that also commission our outreach services engage enforcement agencies to take action against individuals or groups of non-UK nationals who are sleeping rough or engaged in antisocial street activity.
“Our outreach workers may need to be present during this action to ensure that the needs of vulnerable individuals are taken into account.” A ruling is expected next week in the case of three homeless men, two Polish and one Latvian, who claim Amber Rudd, the home secretary, was acting illegally in ordering their detention and removal. The men, represented by the Public Interest Law Unit, argue that the policy is discriminatory and illegal.
Documents in the case say councils have had government funding. James Eadie, QC, for Ms Rudd, said “intentional rough sleeping”, which was in breach of European treaty rights to reside in other EU countries, was targeted. He said the number of Romanians sleeping out in London rose to 1,545 in 2015-16 with many “walking straight from Victoria Coach Station along Park Lane and bedding down immediately”.
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