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Brent Council won't be sharing rough sleepers' personal data through Home Office scheme

PUBLISHED: 15:49 22 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:49 22 July 2019

Eleanor Southwood. Picture: Eleanor Southwood

Eleanor Southwood. Picture: Eleanor Southwood

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Brent Council will not be sharing personal data of rough sleepers with the Home Office.

Housing chief Cllr Eleanor Southwood has issued a statement in response to reports about a new scheme using charities to acquire sensitive data that could lead to deportation for non-UK rough sleepers.

She said: "The reasons people find themselves sleeping rough are complex and we do not believe that heavy-handed enforcement is an appropriate response.

"Our outreach team work hard to gain the trust of people sleeping rough in Brent and help them exit the streets.

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"We do not support a policy that creates a hostile environment for rough sleepers and do not cooperate with the Home Office in sharing their personal data."

Brent is one of 11 councils including Hackney, Isington and Haringey to announce it would not be cooperating.

Jon Glackin, founder of outreach group Streets Kitchen, which operates in Kilburn, says many rough sleepers are already reluctant to cooperate with big homeless charities, after some were exposed for referring people to Immigration Enforcement (IE) in 2017.

Between 2015 and 2017 IE deported 1,351 rough sleeping EU citizens from the UK on the grounds they were violating freedom of movement rights. Freedom of Information figures obtained by this paper show 104 of those were in Brent.

The High Court ruled the "removals" unlawful in December 2017, and the Home Office said it had "ceased all relevant investigation and action on the immigration status of EEA citizens because of rough sleeping". But Sunday's report in The Observer suggests the new trial is similar.

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