Rough sleeping around Westminster Cathedral Piazza

Many of you attended the meeting about anti-social behaviour and rough sleeping around the Piazza last month. Thank you. Cheap drugs and anti-social behaviour continue to be big causes of concern. We are holding another public meeting in June.

Since the meeting we have enclosed the colonnades on the Piazza which were being used by rough sleepers. During the day we have organised for tables and chairs to be set out by the Victoria Business Improvement District to make the Piazza a living space where people can sit and enjoy the open space. We have persuaded the police to provide a stronger presence, and worked with Council officers to encourage soup runs to move inside to help rough sleepers off the streets, rather than helping to keep them there.

Councillor Danny Chalkley said “We fully recognise your frustration and concerns. The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 47 and we persuaded, with our charity partners and Westminster social workers, nearly 80% to get help indoors, but a minority are entrenched and won’t engage with help. Some 60% of rough sleepers need mental health support”.
 
Police enforcement

“I met with the local police to talk about the powers they have in dealing with antisocial rough sleepers” said Councillor David Harvey. “A great deal of work goes into enforcement orders that move rough sleepers out of the area and try to get them into care. Like almost all police forces, they are reluctant to use old-fashioned powers to arrest except where immediate action is needed. They want to get rough sleepers on a pathway to a recovery” he explained.

“Extinction Rebellion protests caused local police to have to work 12 or 18 hour shifts to help our community. There are also undercover operations going on all the time against drug dealers across the City” concluded Councillor Harvey.

How, you, the local community can help

In order to take effective enforcement action the police need to gather evidence and we ask you to please use the 101 number or visit www.met.police.uk/ro/report/asb/asb/report-antisocial-behaviour to provide intelligence to the police so they can get the resources to take action with evidence that will stand up in court. In an emergency situation please call 999. The police also need witness statements to secure convictions.

Please speak to those organising soup runs around the Piazza and let them know that working either with a charity or the council, who provide social care, will help get rough sleepers off the streets for good and back to a safe and settled life. Feeding people on the streets just sustain them there instead of engaging with Council services that could save their lives.