Recorded rough sleeping in Islington up by 40 per cent – and outreach worker says true figure far higher

A person sleeping rough under the bridge in Stroud Green Road. Picture: Polly Hancock

A person sleeping rough under the bridge in Stroud Green Road. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Islington’s rough sleeper population has surged by close to 40 per cent in the past three months, according to City Hall stats.

The Combined Homelessness and Information Network Report (CHAIN) shows an increase of 10 rough sleepers in Islington between July and September, with the total rising from 17 to 27: three more than this time last year.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) commissions CHAIN, which produces quarterly and annual analysis, and it’s managed by St Mungo’s homeless charity.

But Jon Glackin, who runs Street Kitchen, a grassroots homeless outreach service, believes the report lacks credibility and the true figure is even higher.

“It doesn’t sound right,” he said. “Because I’ve noticed a huge increase everywhere. It’s terrible, you can physically see more homeless than before.

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“The figures are only coming from CHAIN and only show people engaging with the service. But there are a lot more who don’t.”

Jon said many rough sleepers are reluctant to cooperate with big homeless charities, after some were exposed for referring people to Immigration Control Enforcement (ICE) last year.

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Between 2015 and 2017 ICE deported 1,351 rough sleeping EU citizens from the UK on the grounds they were violating freedom of movement rights.

But Freedom of Information figures obtained by this paper show only 4 of these were from Islington.

The High Court ruled these “removals” unlawful last December, and the Home Office has since “ceased all relevant investigation and action on the immigration status of EEA citizens because of rough sleeping”.

Jon praised Islington Council for its “proactive approach” in tackling rough sleeping and the wider problems around it.

But he said: “I know people in Islington who don’t engage with the CHAIN service because they’re afraid, so I think the figure is wrong and it’s only going to get worse.”

Four homeless people have died on the borough’s streets in the past 12 months, as revealed in the Gazette last month.

And CHAIN recorded more rough sleepers on the streets of London in the past quarter than in any of its previous reports.

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