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Camden police launch crackdown on people who sleep rough

PUBLISHED: 11:00 06 February 2014

A homeless man sitting beside a doorway in Camden. Picture: PA/David Cheskin

A homeless man sitting beside a doorway in Camden. Picture: PA/David Cheskin

PA/EMPICS

Police in Camden have launched a crackdown against people who beg and sleep rough.

In a controversial move announced last Thursday (January 30), officers will work with council wardens to “engage, disrupt and deter” those sleeping on the street or asking for money from members of the public.

Police chiefs said “Operation Encompass” would be “robust [but] proportionate”, and would see hot-spot areas proactively patrolled and arrests made.

The measures are in tandem with five other police forces across London – Croydon, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark and Westminster – as well as the UK Border Force, and aim to ensure London’s streets are “safe”.

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) commander Alison Newcomb, who is leading the operation, revealed a number of “offenders” had already been given anti-social behaviour notices.

“We are committed to working alongside our partners to reduce the number of those sleeping rough and begging, which can lead to associated anti-social behaviour and crime,” she said.

“We recognise that some of the people we engage with are vulnerable, which is why we are encouraging them to access services to gain the support they need, while taking affirmative action against persistent offenders who break the law or cause intimidation to passing members of the public.”

Cllr Abdul Hai, Camden cabinet member for community safety, assured residents support would continue for those who found themselves homeless.

“Camden is committed to providing help and assistance to those who sleep rough on our streets,” he said.

“We have a ‘no second night out’ policy and work with the homeless to direct them to the appropriate support services they need.

“We are also committed to reducing levels of anti-social behaviour associated with aggressive begging and are working with the police to tackle this problem across the borough.”

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