Revealed: Homeless charities 'complicit' in rough sleeper deportations

Tony Gosling tony at
Mon Sep 19 19:30:37 BST 2016

Revealed: Homeless charities 'complicit' in rough sleeper deportations
"Homeless individuals are sitting ducks for immigration enforcement"
BloomerThursday, 15 September 2016 9:50 AM

Two well-known homeless charities are accused of being 'complicit' 
with the deportation of foreign rough sleepers from the UK, can reveal.

Leading homelessness charities St Mungo's and Thames Reach worked on 
a scheme to tackle 'entrenched' rough sleeping in London, which also 
involved immigration enforcement teams removing people from the 
country against their will.

Documents released by the Greater London Authority suggest the 
charities supported the 'administrative removal' of some foreign 
rough sleepers.

Administrative removals are deportations carried out against people 
who may have breached the conditions of their stay in the UK. Under 
government guidance announced this year, just being seen sleeping 
rough is considered a breach.

Campaigners today hit out at the charities for being 'complicit' with 

"Homeless individuals are sitting ducks for immigration enforcement," 
Rita Chadha, the chief executive of Ramfel, a refugee and migrant group, said.

"The fact that some homelessness charities can be complicit in such 
work is to our collective shame.

"People need to start questioning where their donations to some 
homeless charities are going. Are they really helping individuals or 
are they subsidising state-sanctioned enforcement?"

Former mayor of London Boris Johnson asked the homeless charities to 
work on a 'payment by results' basis, in order to help fulfil his 
promise to eradicate rough sleeping from London's streets.

GLA documents reveal that in 2012, Thames Reach and St Mungo's were 
commissioned to provide a number of services to around 800 so-called 
"entrenched" rough sleepers. But the programme, which was called a 
Social Impact Bond (SIB), also aimed to "reconnect" EU nationals with 
their home countries.

"Reconnections" are usually described as voluntary help for people 
who want to return home. But an update on the SIB in 2015, suggests 
they can also refer to forced removals from the country.

update, the GLA told the Investment & Performance Board (IPB) that 
"the number of reconnections abroad had fallen short of the 
providers' targets" but that "with ten SIB clients having recently 
been referred to the Home Office for administrative removal, the 
number of reconnections in this year may well exceed the providers' 
in-year target".

The SIB is just one of several GLA projects to tackle rough sleeping 
in the capital. In the authority's commissioning framework they make 
it clear that any charity wanting to provide their rough sleeping 
services would be expected to cooperate with immigration officials to 
remove EU nationals.

The framework comments on their "notable success" in working with 
Immigration Compliance Enforcement (ICE) teams, who liaise with 
"local authorities, service providers and the police" to deal with EU 
nationals who are neither employed or self-sufficient.

goes on to say: "This has involved testing a process of 
administrative removal for those individuals overstaying or not 
exercising their treaty rights. The GLA has supported this response 
and will continue to support similar initiatives in the future."

Charities co-operated with scheme to remove 'entrenched' rough sleepers

Thames Reach's contract to carry out the GLA's 'reconnection' work 
ended earlier this year. However, in a response to the Communities 
and Local Government (CLG) Committee homeless inquiry they confirmed 
they support the practice of forced removals. They said:

"For different reasons there is a reluctance to take up this 
voluntary reconnection and for some, inevitably, an administrative 
removal carried out by the Immigration Compliance and Enforcement 
(ICE) service becomes necessary."

They also suggested that a solution to reduce the flow of migrants to 
the UK who end up sleeping rough would be to increase "enforcement by 
ICE teams" where EU treaty obligations are not met.

Ramfel has raised concerns about the GLA's reliance on charities to 
assess immigration cases and questioned whether their staff have the 
necessary skills and experience to provide accurate advice.

"We have seen a number of individuals who have felt pressured to 
leave the UK or have been told they have no alternative but to return 
home, when actually there are a variety of options available to them 
to remain here," Chadha said.

St Mungo's confirmed that they had worked with other agencies to 
'reconnect' foreign rough sleepers. The director of the Street 
Outreach Service at St Mungo's, Petra Salva said:

"St Mungo's does not remove rough sleepers who are not exercising 
their treaty rights. Our work is with vulnerable people sleeping 
rough. We support people to move away from the streets, have a place 
to call home and to rebuild their lives. We consider the person and 
the best route off the street for them. That can involve working with 
other agencies, including reconnection within other London boroughs, 
to other parts of the UK or overseas."

When contacted by, Thames Reach said that they were 
only currently engaged with assisting voluntary reconnections. A 
spokesperson said:

"We know that rough sleeping is dangerous and can kill.  At least 83 
verified rough sleepers died last year in London. Where it is needed, 
we make sure that vulnerable people get the support they need to make 
a successful return home, and get the help they need when they get there."

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