BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: UK: England
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Saturday, 24 November, 2001, 18:07 GMT
Homeless boss denies fiddling figures
Sleeping rough in a London street
Homelessness figures are under scrutiny
The woman leading the government's drive to cut homelessness has denied fiddling figures by moving rough sleepers.

One charity had claimed the Rough Sleepers Unit manipulated the figures in order to meet government targets.

The Simon Community said people were put in hostels or threatened with arrest overnight while counts were done.

The winter survey was carried out last week and will show whether the government has met its pledge to reduce the number of people sleeping rough by two-thirds between 1998 and January 2002.

In July, the figures fell from 1,850 to 703.

Unit head Louise Casey said on Saturday: "There is absolutely nothing in these allegations and I am deeply disappointed by them.

We believe the public and agencies dealing with the issue are being totally misled

Philip Burke
Simon Community homeless charity

"I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of and there has certainly been no fiddling.

"The figures are coming down because of the hard work that has been done and perhaps it is jealousy that has brought these comments.

"It is a shame as such comments can undermine the phenomenal work that has and is being done."

Philip Burke, chairman of the Simon Community, said: "We stand by what we have claimed because it has come from workers involved in the count and from our own outreach workers dealing for those sleeping rough.
Sleeping rough in London
Homelessness workers claim the figures have been fixed

"We believe the public and agencies dealing with the issue are being totally misled and deceived by the rough sleepers unit.

"A number of people were told they would be arrested unless they went to shelters."

Chris Holmes, director of Shelter, said: "Shelter is very concerned if these allegations are found to be true.

"They need to be urgently investigated.

No increase

"There are official guidelines for conducting street counts and it is vital that they are carried out thoroughly and consistently as they indicate trends of street homelessness."

Ms Casey said she will speak to charities next week to further reassure them.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said there had been no stepping up in arrests of homeless people.

He added: "Officers may make arrests under the Vagrancy Act if it is appropriate but there has been no increase."

See also:

22 Oct 01 | UK Politics
House 'decent' homeless first - Tories
10 Oct 01 | England
Homeless food scheme expands
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories