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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 19:25 GMT
Homeless 'offered one-way ticket'
Travel warrants are handed out every month
Rough sleepers in London were offered travel passes out of the capital in the days leading up to an annual government headcount, according to a charity.

The Simon Community claims the one-way tickets were given to people to drive-down the figures.

The Metropolitan Police denied the claim and said tickets were only given to those who have a home to go to.

Since 7 November, 21 travel warrants have been handed out to homeless people in Westminster.

We have many examples of homeless people.... being specifically told 'you need to leave London, the headcount is taking place
Steve Barnes, The Simon Community
The Met said on average 20 travel warrants were handed out per month but that number increased in winter and the lead up to Christmas.

Steve Barnes of The Simon Community claims the issuing of travel warrants was timed to reduce the headcount.

He said: "We have many examples of homeless people being offered travel warrants... being specifically told 'you need to leave London, the headcount is taking place'.

"This is very much what it's about, its about reducing the number for this headcount."

The government has pledged to reduce the number of people sleeping rough.

Rough sleeper Mark Smith said he was approached by police officers last week and offered a travel warrant to leave town.

"They said we can issue you a travel warrant to get out of London... the headcount's coming up and we need to reduce the figures in our areas."

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