Homelessness charities and local authorities complicit in detention and deportation of EU nationals rough sleeping

Three of London’s largest homelessness charities (St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live – formerly known as Crime Reduction Initiative) are collaborating with the Home Office to have EU rough sleepers detained without charge and removed to their country of origin purely on the basis that they are rough sleeping.

Since November 2015 the Home Office has considered rough sleeping an “abuse’’ (or, more recently, a ‘‘misuse’’) of EU Treaty right to freedom of movement. This change of policy has effectively criminalised EU nationals who are sleeping rough, making them liable to be served with removal papers or taken to detention centres and deported.

Why this is wrong

Local authority-commissioned street outreach teams from St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live patrol alongside Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) teams and share the locations of European nationals sleeping rough, circumventing the requirement that clients consent to their personal information being shared. In some cases, they ‘refer’ individuals to the Home Office without their consent. The involvement of local councils and homelessness charities in immigration raids on rough sleepers is symptomatic of the extension of border controls into all aspects of civil society in the UK.

The change in the Home Office’s guidance means that even someone with a job or permanent resident status can be detained without charge and removed to their country of origin. Many of those affected by this divisive new policy have lived in the UK for years, usually working and paying tax. They end up on the streets due to harsh welfare rules that limit their entitlement to benefits. Some rough sleepers may also have substance use or mental health issues.

Apart from believing that homelessness is not a crime, we believe that the Home Office is targeting some of the most vulnerable people in our society—people who should be supported, not criminalised.

We call upon St. Mungo’s Broadway, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live to immediately:

  1. Stop participating in enforcement actions that involve the detention and removal of EU nationals rough sleeping;
  2. Advocate on behalf of rough sleepers and against the government’s attack on EU nationals;
  3. Provide rights-based advice for EU nationals sleeping rough, referring out to legal agencies where necessary, e.g. complex welfare benefits or immigration cases;
  4. Begin investigations to ensure the welfare of those currently in detention and all those returned.

Signatories:

North East London Migrant Action (NELMA)

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL)

Haringey Migrant Support Centre

Hackney Migrant Centre

North London Action for the Homeless

Right to Remain

Movement for Justice

Radical Housing Network

Jerome Phelps, Detention Action

Digs

Focus E15

Roots to Return

Fuel Poverty Action

Jon Glackin, Streets Kitchen

Akwaaba

Left Unity

Refugees Welcome Haringey

Barnet Momentum

Barnet Unite Community

Our West Hendon

Barnet Housing Action Group 

Haringey Solidarity Group

Bail for Immigration Detainees

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‘The Round-Up: rough sleeper immigration raids and charity collaboration’

Today Corporate Watch published a report entitled ‘The Round-Up: rough sleeper immigration raids and charity collaboration’, which exposes the active collaboration of London’s Mayor, local councils and homelessness charities delivering street outreach services – St Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live (CGL).

Homeless people on the streets of London have become prime targets for immigration raids, in which some of the city’s most vulnerable people are detained and deported. Several nights a week, immigration patrols are out targeting rough sleepers in London.

Whilst arrests are carried out by Home Office “Immigration Compliance and Enforcement” (ICE) teams, they rely on joint patrols and other intelligence provided by street outreach services. They may also see their role increase in deciding whether or not it is ‘proportional’ to remove people, effectively giving them the power to decide who is worthy of remaining in the UK and who can be disposed of.

This report shows how:

  • Outreach teams from charities St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, and CGL conduct regular joint “visits” with Immigration Enforcement officers, as often as fortnightly in central boroughs. Freedom of Information (FOI) responses show 141 such patrols organised by the GLA and 12 London boroughs last year. This figure does not include Westminster or the City of London, the biggest concentration of London homelessness, where patrols are likely to be even more frequent.
  • 127 people were deported as a result of a a two-month pilot operation in Westminster alone.
  • “Joint visits” in eight of these boroughs led to another 133 rough sleepers being detained
  • Charity outreach teams routinely pass on locations of non-UK rough sleepers to ICE through the London-wide CHAIN database and through local data co-operation agreements. This intelligence may lead to many more arrests.
  • As opposed to workplace raids which largely hit South Asian migrants, EU and other European Economic Area (EEA) nationals are the main targets here, as they made up nearly half of London rough sleepers last year. Migrants from Romania, Poland, and other East European countries are particularly affected.
  • Under new Home Office rules introduced in May 2016, European rough sleepers can be arrested for deportation on their first night sleeping rough, as this is considered a “misuse” of their European “Treaty rights”. Outreach workers may be called on to guide Immigration Officers in deciding whether detention is “proportional”.
  • Tough policy on migrant rough sleepers was “intensely lobbied” for by Westminster Council, and actively pushed by the GLA and other members of the “Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Group”, including senior managers from St Mungo’s, Thames Reach and other charities.
  • The rough sleeper deportation system is at the cutting edge of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” approach rolling out across schools, hospitals, housing, and other areas of everyday life. This approach relies on turning teachers, doctors and nurses, charity workers, and other citizens into Home Office informers.
  • The “hostile environment” is based on collaboration. It can be broken by solidarity and resistance. Examples of refusal by some homelessness workers and campaigners may start to show the way.

Can you help?

We are continuing to collect information and evidence about rough sleeper patrols.

If you are a homelessness worker, rough sleeper, or have any information that you’d like to share with Corporate Watch, email us at contact[at]corporatewatch.org or call 020 7426 0005. We will respect your confidentiality.

If you have any immediate information about ICE raids, we suggest you contact Anti Raids Network: https://network23.org/antiraids/ email: antiraids@riseup.net  twitter: @antiraids.

Please join our twitter storm tomorrow to help us hold these charities to account!

Twitter storm: stop homelessness charities collaborating with Immigration Compliance and Enforcement

Three of London’s largest homelessness charities (St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live – formerly known as Crime Reduction Initiative), Greater London Authority (GLA), local borough councils, and the Mayor of London are collaborating with the Home Office to have EU (European Union) rough sleepers detained without charge and removed to their country of origin purely on the basis that they are rough sleeping.
Since November 2015 the Home Office has considered rough sleeping an “abuse’’ (or, more recently, a ‘‘misuse’’) of EU Treaty right to freedom of movement. This change of policy has effectively criminalised EU nationals who are sleeping rough, making them liable to be served with removal papers or taken to detention centres and deported.

Local authority-commissioned outreach teams from St. Mungo’s, Thames Reach and Change, Grow, Live patrol alongside Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE) teams and share the locations of European nationals sleeping rough, circumventing the requirement that rough sleepers consent to their personal information being shared. 

Homelessness is not a crime! 

NELMA (North East London Migrant Action) and HASL (Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth) are asking for your help to call on St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, and Change, Grow, Live to immediately stop collaborating with ICE in the detention and removal of EU nationals rough sleeping.

We want to hold these charities to account for their participation in the racist criminalisation of homelessness. We’re hoping that if we can demonstrate just how many of us disagree with what St Mungo’s, Thames Reach, and Change, Grow, Live are doing, we can convince them that they need to stop supporting this divisive new Home Office policy and instead advocate on behalf of rough sleepers against the government’s attack on EU nationals.

Show solidarity with vulnerable migrants in our communities!

Join us next Wednesday 8th March in creating a Twitter and email storm between 10am-12pm (but feel free to start before and continue after!). We’re asking people to Tweet St Mungo’s (@StMungos), Thamesreach (@ThamesReach), and Change, Grow, Live (@changegrowlive). We’re using the hashtags #CutTheCollaboration and #StopTheScandal to help keep track of them. We’ve included some sample tweets below which will easily allow you to express your anger:

Sample tweet 1

Sample tweet 2

Sample tweet 3

Sample tweet 4

We’ve also made a series of graphics (see below) to help the storm get more attention!

 

Please also help us put pressure on local councils to stop collaborating with ICE in the detention and deportation of rough sleeping EU nationals. 

We know that the following local authorities are complicit in this racist attack on rough sleepers:

Greenwich (@Royal_Greenwich), Camden (@camdentalking), Islington (@IslingtonBC), Tower Hamlets (@TowerHamletsNow), Waltham Forest (@wfcouncil), Hammersmith and Fulham (@LBHF), Kensington and Chelsea (@RBKC), Ealing (@EalingCouncil), Lewisham (@LewishamCouncil), Southwark (@lb_southwark), Haringey (@haringeycouncil), Lambeth (@lambeth_council), Westminster (@CityWestminster)

See FOIs submitted by HASL for more information.

We’d also like people to email St Mungo’s, Change, Grow, Live, and Thamesreach demanding answers. You can reach them at:

St Mungo’s: howard.sinclair@mungos.org, BoardofStMungos@mungosbroadway.org.uk, petra.salva@mungos.org

CGL: hilary.jackson@cgl.org.uk, david.biddle@cgl.org.uk, cgl@theproffice.com

Thamesreach: jeremy.swain@thamesreach.org.uk, kristian.draper@thamesreach.org.uk

We’d also invite people to cc us in to your emails using nelondonmigrantaction@gmail.com. We’ve drafted a template email at the end of this blogpost that you can send . Please feel free to amend or adjust as suits you.

Sample email

To: ChairofStMungos@mungosbroadway.org.uk, BoardofStMungos@mungosbroadway.org.uk, nelondonmigrantaction@gmail.com

Subject: Why are you collaborating with ICE in the detention and deportation of rough sleeping EU nationals?
Dear X

I am shocked to learn that a homeless charity such as yours is actively working with the Home Office’s Immigration and Enforcement (ICE) teams to facilitate the detention and removal of vulnerable EEA Nationals.

Homeless charities like yours should be working to support those sleeping rough – assisting them to find stable and safe accommodation, and applying pressure on government and local councils to provide more suitable and affordable housing – instead of colluding in the forced removal of EEA Nationals who are rough sleeping.  Such forced removal does not help those who are sleeping rough, but merely shifts them to do the same but in a different place.  Moreover, deporting people to countries like Poland when there are sub-zero temperatures is nothing short of murderous.As you are aware, homelessness is not a crime, nor is it a choice. We are experiencing a continued housing crisis, which is not the fault of vulnerable people.

 The recent Home Office policy of administrative removal for EEA Nationals who are rough sleeping is incredibly divisive. It ignores the many situations in which people find themselves homeless, through relationship breakdown, as a result of bereavement, and because of a precarious housing and labour market.

This is what makes your complicity in working in partnership with ICE teams and local authorities – colluding with them during enforcement operations, on patrols, and in sharing information about rough sleepers with them – even more insidious.

It is deeply troubling and shouldn’t be happening.

You must end your complicity in the detention and removal of EEA nationals, and I, like many others, are expecting a public comment on this from you, as well as a demonstrable guarantee and commitment that you will no longer collaborate with immigration authorities.Yours Sincerely,

XX

NELMA & Akwaaba Film Screening: L’Abri

abri_annonce_horiz_pt-580x282

Join NELMA and Akwaaba on Monday 27th February at 7pm at Hackney Picturehouse for an evening against refugee and migrant homelessness.

The evening will feature a Q&A with expert speakers, followed by a screening of Fernand Melgar’s L’Abri (The Shelter, 2014), which charts a cold winter at a refuge for homeless migrants in Lausanne, where those on duty have the nightly task of ‘sorting the poor’ and choosing fifty who can take shelter.

Join us to learn more about the issue of refugee and migrant homelessness – and find out how you can help.

All proceeds will go to Akwaaba, a Hackney-based social centre for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants; and North East London Migrant Action (NELMA), a campaigning and solidarity group.

Tickets £5
Film rating: 18

We are looking to raise important funds for NELMA and Akwaaba through ticket sales on the night, but understand that not everyone may be in a position to buy a ticket. For anyone who would like to come along, but feel they are not able to pay an entrance fee, please contact akwaabalondon@gmail.com and we will happily add you to our guest list for free.

Update on EEA Admin Removals

Home Office guidance on administrative removals of EEA nationals was updated on 1 February. The Home Office have changed their rhetoric around rough sleeping (‘abuse’ is now ‘misuse’) and have clarified ‘proportionality’. See the full document here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/590663/GI-EEA-admin-removal-v3.pdf

In the past 2 weeks, there have been a number of policy changes where EEA/EU nationals are concerned (i.e. crackdowns by the government). This is summarised well with links to official documents here: https://www.freemovement.org.uk/new-policies-and-forms-for-eu-nationals-show-hardening-home-office-position/

Articles

Below is a list of recent news articles that have been published on the ‘administrative removals’ (deportation) of EEA rough sleepers.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/eastern-european-rough-sleepers-arrested-12605207#ICID=FB-Liv-main

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/15074403.Immigration_officers_arrest_Polish_rough_sleeper/

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/sleeping-rough-isnt-choice-nor-it-illegal-so-why-do-we-deport-homeless-foreigners-1605829

https://onesmallwindow.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/deporting-eu-rough-sleepers-to-prevent-homelessness/

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14915856.Ten_European_rough_sleepers_arrested_and_threatened_with_deportation_in__quot_absurd_quot__immigration_raid/?ref=mac

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/14927749._I_loved_Brighton_and_thought_I_could_settle_there___Polish_man_at_centre_of_deportation_row/