‘Disgrace’ as 100 homeless EEA nationals deported from Brent by Home Office

Rough sleeper illustrated in Crisis charity's campaign by model with sleeping bag. Picture: Sam Mell

Rough sleeper illustrated in Crisis charity's campaign by model with sleeping bag. Picture: Sam Mellish - Credit: Archant

The Home Office has been branded a “disgrace” after it deported more than 100 rough sleeping Europeans from Brent over the past three years.

Between 2015 and 2018 immigration compliance enforcement officers (ICE) rounded up 104 European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and “returned” them to their native countries, FoI stats obtained by the Times show.

In total ICE officers removed 1351 EEA nationals from the UK over this period after encountering them on “rough sleeper operations”.

The Lib Dem candidate for Brent Central in 2017, Anton Georgiou, said: “It’s a disgrace that 104 individuals have faced the heartache of being removed in this way.

“Brent has always been an open, tolerant and diverse place and if it is to remain so people need to stand up to the Home Office.”

In 2016 the Home Office decided street homelessness breached free movement rights, allowing it to detain people before repatriating them.

But a year three homeless men won a landmark High Court case against the department, where its policy of deporting homeless EEA nationals was ruled contrary to European Union law.

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North East London Migrant Action (NELMA), a campaign group which helped them win the court case, has since labelled the deportations “a divisive policy” which “criminalised some of the most vulnerable people in Britain”.

Our FoI stats also show that since 2015 more than double the number of EEA nationals have been deported from Brent compared to the combined total for Camden, Hackney, Haringey and Islington (49).

Over these three years the Home Office also tried and failed to remove 261 homeless Europeans from the UK, of which 10 were living in Brent.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “No one should ever have to sleep rough, and this government is determined to break the homelessness cycle.

“Local projects across the country are working with non-British rough sleepers, helping them find employment and accommodation or return home where appropriate.

“We have ceased all relevant investigation and action on the immigration status of EEA citizens because of rough sleeping.”

As of June, City Hall recorded 56 rough sleepers living in Brent, with 73 per cent of these being EEA nationals.