Headlines: December 14th, 1999

The Government has been quick to respond following a damning report about the plight of rough sleepers.A week before the official Rough Sleepers Unit report on how it intends to meet the Prime Minister’s target of reducing rough sleeping, the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) has published findings about how tough it is to sleep on the streets.

‘Unsafe Streets’ challenges the ‘walk-on-by’ culture by revealing that the majority of wounding, harassment and threatening behaviour faced by rough sleepers comes from the public rather than other rough sleepers.

Nearly half of rough sleepers experience assault compared to just three per cent of the general public. Seventy eight per cent of rough sleepers have been victims of crime on at least one recent occasion, but perhaps not surprisingly, have been reluctant to report it to the Police as they did not believe their case would be taken seriously.

Next week the Government’s Rough Sleepers Unit will publish how it intends to reduce rough sleeping by two thirds by 2002.

In response to the IPPR report it said it was promising a targeted approach never tried before.

It will involved cross-departmental working to provide long-term specialist help. The new initiative also promises, for the first time, to attempt to prevent vulnerable people adding to the numbers on the streets.

‘Unsafe Streets: Street Homelessness and Crime’ by Scott Ballintyne is published by the Institute for Public Policy Research and is available on 0181 986 5488: £8:95