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Alternatives to enforcement: police given practical guide on preventing rough sleeping

05 Jul 2021

The National Police Chiefs’ Council have partnered with Crisis, the UK’s national homelessness charity, to produce a practical guide on helping people end their rough sleeping without enforcement.

The guide, which is being shared with all 43 police forces in England and Wales, highlights successful collaborations between police forces, local authorities and third sector organisations to tackle the issue.

Available in both full and short formats, From enforcement to ending homelessness shares practical steps taken by Durham Constabulary, Northampton Police, Devon & Cornwall Police, Police Scotland and Dyfed-Powys Police amongst others. The diverse range of actions include: 

  • Humberside Police’s dedicated community officer working alongside local homelessness service providers 
  • Welsh homelessness charity The Wallich training 40 South Wales Police officers and PCSOs to increase awareness and understanding of people sleeping rough  
  • In Derby, The Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, Public Health England, Derby Homes and East Midlands Ambulance Service all working in partnership with Derby City Mission to provide a ‘safe space’ which enables people to access support, day or night. 
  • Essex Police and Greater Manchester Police both developing multi-agency street engagement hubs. 

With multi-agency approaches key to preventing rough sleeping, the guide also highlights organisations supporting specific groups of people who are homeless, including women, LGBTQ+ people and people with disabilities.  

The coronavirus pandemic revealed that the number of people sleeping rough or at risk of doing so was much higher than previously accepted, with 37,430 people in England provided emergency accommodation by January 2021 and 5,010 people in Wales accommodated between August and December 2020. 

Matt Downie, Director of Policy and External Affairs at Crisis, said:  

“No one should be forced to live on our streets.  

“We can help people leave that hugely damaging life by working together to understand the issues they face and providing them with the right support. With pandemic measures like furlough soon coming to an end, that work is more important than ever. 

“Across the country, police forces, local authorities and charities are making lasting change by delivering support services in partnership, rather than driving people away from them through enforcement. We are proud to have developed this practical guide with NPCC, to share the best of that work.”  

 National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Homelessness, Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Prophet said: 

“Police have been working for some time with a range of partners nationally and at a local level to understand the issues behind homelessness and rough sleeping.  

“These are complex societal issues that can only be solved with long-term support and collaboration from a range of agencies. The work we have undertaken with Crisis will go a long way to ensuring officers are able to understand why people end up homeless, what support they need the most, and crucially, what can be done to help them escape homelessness.  

“It is important that we continue to build on work like this, and that officers know when to use enforcement, and when to provide support. By working with partners such as Crisis, we can ensure that we get this balance right.”