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Anger after council order homeless woman's sleeping bag and belongings to be binned from Finchley Road underpass

PUBLISHED: 07:49 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:12 20 September 2019

The Finchley Road underpass. Picture: Roy Chacko

The Finchley Road underpass. Picture: Roy Chacko

Archant

Camden Council has admitted that a town hall officer ordered the belongings of a homeless woman to be disposed of from the underpass near Finchley Road Tube station on Friday morning.

Passer-by Katie Docwra, a PhD student, was "astonished and appalled" to watch Veolia staff binning a "sleeping bag, cuddly toys, toiletries, warm clothing" and other possessions belonging to a woman who often sleeps in the spot.

Katie, who used to live in West Hampstead, told the Ham&High: "I just got off the bus, took the underpass, and saw there were a lot of staff there.

"As I was walking I saw the bin men had a bag. There were three or four of them with black bags. It was just awful.

"What riled me up so much was that the person wasn't there. I am angry that I didn't step in and say something then and there."

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Katie added: "I know that it's someone who has been there for a long time - there was so much stuff. A sleeping bag, toiletries, stuff people must have given them."

After Katie made them aware of the incident, Veolia tweeted: "Our operatives were requested to clear this by our [Camden Council] Area Monitoring Officers this morning. We will only clear areas like this at the request of the council and police."

Katie said she was "unsurprised" by this and accused the town hall of lacking compassion.

In response, Camden's communities chief Cllr Nadia Shah said: "Every possible effort is made to engage with rough sleepers in the borough to best ensure that they engage with our services that are available to them away from what can be at times a chaotic street setting."

She added that council street teams "always endeavour to speak with rough sleepers" to ensure their own long-term safety and that of others in the community. She said this sometimes involved, "following discussion" with the individual, the removal of possessions.

The town hall emphasised that its Routes Off the Streets team would always help safeguard important documents.

The Ham&High understands the person in question was not sleeping rough on Friday and was staying in a form of emergency accommodation.

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