September 1, 2016
On 16 September 2016 The Northbank BID organised a multi-agency briefing to address rough sleeping and begging. Here is a round-up of the event:
Katherine Fleming, Operations Director, The Northbank BID
This was a morning briefing to the businesses on what is happening around a major central issue of rough sleeping, policing and anti-social behaviour in the area. Given the coordinated approach of things happening to face this challenge the BID led an event that brought together agencies that are working hard in this area. The following agencies were represented: The Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council, The Northbank BID, Thames Reach, Big Issue, The Connection at St Martins and St Martin-in-the-Fields.
This was also well-timed against the background of Westminster’s new campaign Making Real Change. This campaign demonstrates a positive message and empowers the businesses to help by acting compassionately and through a coordinated approach via Streetlink – to connect rough sleepers to local services resulting in sustainable outcomes.
Robert White, Commissioning Manager – Rough Sleeping Team, Westminster CC
Colin Glover, Chief Executive, The Connection at St Martins | Vicky Ball, Westminster Outreach Services
× Contact for: hot spot and outreach teams
× Referrals via streetlink
PS John Levy-Cohen, Strand and Whitehall Sergeant | PS Nikki Clarke-Rogers, Covent Garden West End Neighbourhood Sergeant, The Metropolitan Police
× Contact for: policing matters and enquiries
× impact forms
× dispersal orders
Klaudija Green, Neighbourhood Problem Solving Coordinator, Westminster CC
× Contact for: enforcement issues
× signposting to the relevant authorities
× how to fill out impact form
× swift response teams working 24/7
Jeremy Swain, Chief Executive, Thames Reach
× Contact for: soup runs lobbying
Katherine Fleming, The Northbank BID
As part of The Northbank BID’s business continuity communication strategy, we introduced a radio network for our businesses. Our security team and cleansing teams are contactable on the radios for any reports of anti-social behaviour or inconvenience to business.
If you would like a radio designed to contact our teams on the ground please email email@example.com
Radios are on offer to any businesses that require them. You will receive training on how to use the radios.
Panel Q&A, Chair: Katherine Fleming
The Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council, Thames Reach, The Northbank BID, Big Issue, The Connection at St Martins, St Martin-in-the-Fields
This is a complex issue. The local authorities and agencies are working in a coordinated way but there are many factors at play.
There are lots of agencies involved working for the same goal – to reduce the number of rough sleepers and anti-social behaviour through a coordinated response.
Displacement is not the aim; but rather helping to secure sustainable assistance and guidance through to the right services.
The increase in numbers of rough sleepers is not a reflection on the services that are being provided but a systemic shift in the economy, affordable housing cuts, drugs legislation and lack of funding around health issues.
Businesses can do a lot to help in this area and there are many roles from reporting an issue and building a case to volunteering, that are all crucial ways to improve the service to reduce the numbers of people on the streets.
Hand out is not a hand up:
Begging is a central issue to sustaining homelessness. Begging on the streets is illegal. Tourists and workers who compassionately give money to people on the street are not actually helping to reduce the numbers on the street but are sustaining rough sleeping, begging or illegal activity.
There is a lot of ambivalence about soup runs and how helpful they are. It is thought that they bring people onto the streets rather than help them off. These daily soup runs, run by well-meaning people are undermining the services that are provided.
Engagement has started with Transport for London and the British Transport Police to reach out to visitors and workers advising them against giving money and instead using the Streetlink service or other constructive assistance.
Policing and enforcement:
Rough sleeping will never be illegal. We need to act to meet the issues of individuals as they arise. Programmes are in place to meet the individual needs and complex issues. Feedback on these services is always welcome and will be taken on board.
If you see a police or outreach response that appears to be hard-line, it will probably be a planned operation so you are urged not to jump to a conclusion that it is not compassionate behaviour.
There are blockages and barriers to Spice regulation and resolution. It is a relatively new issue. It is currently legal to consume but not to deal. If you witness dealing on the streets please call 999.
The numbers are 999 for emergencies and 101 for non emergencies.
Local police want to assist. Please raise concern to the police if you think there is an issue that needs to be dealt with urgently but is not an emergency. This way, they will know to prioritise your reports and aim to act swiftly.
There are currently plans to improve the way feedback is generated from public reports. Due to public funding cuts there is limited resource available to feedback to every call.
There are a lot of mental needs and substance abuse issues that are being problem solved and tackled at the source.
Every outreach services meet the individual need of the vulnerable person. There are many people who refuse help offered. There are specific teams assigned to this group of people.
Westminster Council is consulting on the Rough sleeping strategy 2017-20. This will be open for consultation from the 26th September 2016. The council wants to hear from you as to what should be in the strategy.
Downloads and useful sites:
Businesses – Keep making a Real Change to the lives of rough sleepers in Westminster. Report their location via www.streetlink.org.uk, text REALCHANGE plus the amount you wish to give to 70500, or visit www.westminster.gov.uk/real-change
Help us to understand more about your concerns:
Prior to the event, we are carrying out a crime and antisocial survey on the Northbank. You’re feedback is greatly appreciated and will inform our services going forward.
As part of The Northbank BID’s business continuity communication strategy we would like to roll out a digital radio network to our businesses. Our security personnel and cleansing teams are contactable on these radios for any reports of antisocial behaviour or inconvenience to your business. If you would like to receive a radio and get free training please contact the BID office.