Clearance of unsafe and abandoned sites
Although our priority is to ensure that people who are sleeping rough receive the help, support and encouragement they need to come off the streets, we also have a duty to protect the health and safety of the wider community.
Each year, we invest a significant amount of time and money in clearing tents, soiled bedding, bloodied needles, human waste and discarded rubbish from sites that have been used, but are then abandoned, by people sleeping rough.
In 2018, for example, the workers who cleared one of those abandoned sites – in the grounds of a church, close to a children’s nursery – removed a total of 300 needles, including some that had been concealed in the canvas around the tent poles in order to hurt anyone who attempted to remove them.
Tents, bedding, food and personal possessions will only be removed if they have been abandoned, are obstructing the highway or pose a risk to community safety.
If we or the police are concerned about a particular site and decide that it needs to be cleared, we or they will speak to the occupants during the days before the site is cleared (unless the site must be cleared straight away) in the hope that they can be persuaded to move to another location. This approach usually works well.
When a site is cleared, we and/or the police will arrange for any tents, soiled bedding/clothing, food, drugs paraphernalia, human waste and rubbish to be disposed of. Any personal possessions will be put into bags, ‘tagged’ and placed in storage for 28 days. Relevant agencies will be informed of the action that the people who are affected will need to take to recover their possessions from storage.