Police lead initiative in helping county’s homeless

As part of a drive to be more responsive to the needs of different communities, Sussex Police has teamed up with partners, local councils and agencies to run a survey with those who sleep rough or form part of the street community in Sussex.

The work, led by a multi-agency working group, saw officers and key workers across the county aiming to visit and engage with every person who sleeps on the streets of Sussex over a six day period between June 17 and 23. People were asked a series of questions so that services can better understand their vulnerability and determine how they can be connected to local services.

Sussex Homeless Outreach Reconnection and Engagement service Chair, Peter Gaimster said, “Sussex authorities within the SHORE Partnership looked forward to working in partnership with Sussex Police on this initiative. Any information that we are able to collect will be useful in providing a better platform to help ensure that any services provided for the street community are fully joined up and that they go on to make a real difference to peoples lives as well as our local communities.”

Chief Inspector Jane Derrick said, “This work is about understanding and responding to the needs of this community who we know can be incredibly vulnerable. The scoping exercise is part of our response, enabling us to identify exactly what the issues are and how we can work together with our partners to provide proactive, long-term solutions.

“The public can support those who are rough sleeping by making contact with the national Street Link service which enables people to alert authorities about a rough sleeper via a website and mobile phone app.”

Based on estimated numbers, the number of rough sleepers in Sussex has increased by 40 per cent between 2010 and 2012. (103 compared to 147). Between 2009 and 2012, there has been a 37 per cent increase in the number of statutory homeless households (those eligible for council housing based on a number of criteria) accepted in Sussex (1035 in 2009 compared to 1422 in 2012). Figures from charity Homeless Link.

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne said, “I am pleased to see this initiative being rolled out by Sussex Police and partners. Engaging and working with the Sussex street community is something that I know Sussex Police is committed to and understanding their needs and vulnerability is a vital part of that work.

“This community is extremely vulnerable and is something that we know the wider community want the police and partners to focus on as well.”