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Last Updated: Monday, 17 September 2007, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
City's homeless attacks 'rising'
Homeless man
The Scrine Foundation said attacks on the homeless were rising
Police in the Kent city of Canterbury have urged the homeless to speak out if they are victims of late night attacks.

It follows a claim by the Scrine Foundation, which helps rough sleepers in the area, that people are facing violent assaults on a regular basis.

It said the attacks, many of which were not reported, were linked to "a growing lack of sympathy for the homeless".

Ch Insp Lee Russell said officers did not draw any distinction on social status and always responded to attacks.

One homeless man, called Nigel, has been living on the streets of Canterbury for 10 years, and told BBC Radio Kent how he was stabbed in the back and left in a coma in a late night attack.

'Isolated incidents'

"I always tell my friends to double up... because if you're alone, you're vulnerable," he said.

The Scrine Foundation, which runs a homeless day centre and night shelter in Canterbury, said attacks were a common theme.

Chief executive Lloyd Hobard-Mitchell said many members of the public just walked on by and did not help victims.

Ch Insp Russell said he believed the incidents were isolated, but added his officers would continue to work with homeless agencies to support those people who were vulnerable.

"Unfortunately the homeless people by their own manner of living create themselves to be vulnerable.

"And we would encourage them to work closely with their support agencies so they remove themselves from that vulnerability," he said.


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