Charities unite to condemn ‘inhumane’ policy that threatens to deport people for sleeping rough
Homelessness charities have united to condemn an “inhumane” immigration policy that could see rough sleeping used as grounds for removing someone from the country.
In a joint statement, the 60 homelessness and human rights organisations condemned the UK Government policy, which recently came into force, and warned it will make non-UK nationals in vulnerable circumstances even more reluctant to seek help.
The charities said the policy puts people at risk of exploitative work and potentially modern slavery to avoid sleeping rough and putting their immigration status at risk.
The UK Government has said that rough sleeping will only be used sparingly as grounds for denying or cancelling a non-UK national’s right to remain in the country, when someone has refused offers of support and is engaged in persistent anti-social behaviour or other criminal activity.
But the charities remain gravely concerned about the impact these rules will have, stating that the guidance “does nothing to put our fears to rest”.
The UK Government previously targeted homeless people for removal by immigration enforcement.
In 2017, a Home Office policy of deporting rough sleepers from the EU was ruled to be unlawful and an abuse of the right to EU free movement.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “Someone sleeping rough on the street needs help, but these changes just put them at greater risk.
“We are deeply concerned that these new rules will push people away from seeking support, and into the hands of criminals seeking to exploit them.
“The guidance released by the Home Office over how they will be used does nothing to allay our fears.
“There have been huge strides made in tackling rough sleeping over the past year, with thousands of people moved from the streets and into safe, self-contained accommodation.
“These changes threaten to undermine that progress.
“Alongside colleagues from across the sector we are urging the UK Government to think again and make sure that everyone experiencing homelessness is treated with dignity and respect.”