Birmingham City Council launches Rough Sleepers Task Force
Birmingham City Council have launched a Rough Sleepers Task Force to bring key organisations together to address city centre rough sleeping.
The task force will tackle the increasing numbers of people genuinely sleeping rough in the city and the increasing numbers of people begging and involved in criminal behaviour through a three-pronged set of guiding principles – Educate, Engage and Enforce.
This task force will coordinate individual strategies on a case by case basis, building on the work of our HOST project.
The principles underlying this taskforce are to:
- Educate – give advice to rough sleepers, explain what services are available to both rough sleepers and the public, encourage the public to donate money to charities
- Engage – encourage people to accept support for their health, substance misuse and housing in order to come off the streets
- Enforce – if people continually commit anti-social behaviour or criminal activity the task force will pursue with positive prohibitions to prevent them from being trapped in a cycle of homelessness and arrest
Birmingham City Council’s ambassador for rough sleeping, Cllr Sharon Thompson, said: “Birmingham is experiencing an increase in rough sleeping, begging and anti-social behaviour.
“It is clear that no single agency can deal with the wide range of issues and needs that people have.
“The Rough Sleepers Task Force brings together the expertise that we need in a coordinated way, ensuring that we share information, quickly and efficiently, and work together to pull together programmes of support for people who need it.”
Birmingham Police Superintendent Andy Parsons said officers were speaking to the homeless daily, offering advice and directing them to support agencies who can help them off the street, access benefits and address issues like substance abuse.
“I’m confident this coordinated taskforce approach will help protect people who sleep rough in the city centre and get them the support they need."
The Rough Sleepers Task Force will incorporate a team of three officers from West Midlands Police, two outreach workers from Midland Heart, two CGL substance misuse officers, Birmingham City council enforcement officers and a community nurse.
Other agencies such as West Midland Fire Service and homeless charity SIFA will complement the work of the Task Force and will be invited to attend weekly tasking meetings to share information or work on specific areas.
There will also be improved links to BID Street Wardens and Ambassadors.