According to the Guardian, councils in Britain have given thousands one-way train, bus and flight tickets to homeless people with the pure intention to send rough sleepers away or even to leave the country.
Data reveals that 6,810 tickets have been purchased across 83 councils in England and Wales since 2015.
The Greater London purchased 4,159 tickets, more than a third to destinations out of the UK.
Little is known about what happened to their recipients. The idea of “reconnection policies” is to encourage to voluntarily return to areas where recipients have family and support networks.
However, giving one-way tickets has been described as “street cleansing” and an abdication of responsibility by campaigners and MPs.
Some homeless said they had been offered tickets to locations they had never visited and felt as if they were given no choice.
Gabor Kasza, originally from Hungary says:
“I have heard of councils giving people one-way train tickets. Often they say they don’t have accommodation in London and they want to get rid of people, send them out … They also give plane tickets to eastern European people. They tried to do it to me once. The most vulnerable people might take it, but most people won’t if they have a job here.
“Some councils still offer the tickets in a way that makes you feel like you have to take it though. If you don’t take it they say you are making yourself homeless and are reluctant to help you.
“I know people still offered plane tickets … they say we can offer you a reconnection to your home country. If you don’t take it sometimes they say they can offer you no help, they say they want you to work with them. But some people have nothing to go home to, they send people back to nothing. You go homeless there and it’s the same thing but in my country with what you earn you never stand up again.”
The former health minister Norman Lamb said:
“What’s happening is inhumane and utterly inappropriate. I’m conscious that many people who are street homeless are also battling mental health problems and addiction issues, and to just use this policy as a means of cleansing an area or city centre when dealing with people who are trying to cope with a whole host of challenges is disgusting and should not happen. It’s scandalous how many people are now street homeless.”
A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, said:
“Reconnections” were voluntary and that the service to offer non-UK nationals tickets home often involved accompanying a rough sleeper back to their country.
Homeless people fined and imprisoned in England and Wales
According to the Guardian there was over 50 local authorities with public space protection orders (PSPOs) in place at May 2018, and homeless people are fined, given criminal convictions and imprisoned for begging and rough sleeping.
Councils use PSPOs to crackdown on begging. Breaching a PSPO can lead to a £100 fixed-penalty notice, but offenders face a summary conviction, sometimes a criminal behaviour order (CBO) banning an individual for future begging and a fine of up to £1,000 if they fail to pay. Violating a CBO can result in five years in prison.
Crazy cases include a man jailed in Gloucester for begging – the judge admitted:
“I will be sending a man to prison for asking for food when he was hungry”
Another almost unbeliviable case is a man who was fined £105 after a child dropped £2 in his sleeping bag.
Lawyers, charities and campaigners described this as “grotesque inhumanity”. Josie Appleton, director of the Manifesto Club said:
The impact on homeless people includes them being run out of town or if they reoffend they face imprisonment, making it harder to get back on their feet and find work..
440 homeless people died in UK in 2017
According to the Guardian hundreds homeless people have died since October 2017. They were found dead in shop doorways, hostels and camping in tents in woodland. Dead homeless people were found also a few steps from the Parliament house and from Tube stations while people walking past the bodies.
Deaths were caused by violence, drug overdoses, illnesses, suicide and murder etc. reasons.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:
Every death of someone sleeping rough on our streets is one too many and we take this matter extremely seriously. We are investing £1.2bn to tackle all forms of homelessness and have set out bold plans, backed by £100m in funding, to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and end it by 2027.
Lets hope that this becomes reality.