Charity boss comments on 'move rough sleepers' remarks

Framework helps homeless people across the East Midlands.
Framework helps homeless people across the East Midlands.

A charity which helps homeless people in Derbyshire has commented after Windsor council leader Simon Dudley wrote to Thames Valley Police requesting that rough sleepers are cleared from the town.

Mr Dudley asked the force to deal with the problem of 'aggressive begging' before the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May.

He also suggested that many of the people begging on the streets of Windsor are not actually homeless or, if they are, they choose to be so.

Michael Leng, operations director at the Framework charity, responded: "Begging and rough sleeping are not the same thing.

"We know from our work that most people we come across who are begging do not sleep rough.

"We know also that most people who we see sleeping rough do not beg.

"These issues are sometimes related but are actually two very distinct issues that require individual responses.

"People who beg nearly always have complex problems - for example with drugs, alcohol and mental ill-health.

"They need and deserve help, but not necessarily with their housing."

Mr Leng added that 'one of the more emotive issues to come out of this story is the idea that people choose to endanger themselves by sleeping rough'.

"In our experience this is certainly not the norm, but, as strange as it may sound some of the people we find sleeping rough do not want to accept our help," he said.

"This does not mean they enjoy living on the streets or are in some way making a lifestyle choice; it simply means they have become entrenched in a cycle that is very difficult to arrest.

"Many of the people, for example, have a fundamental distrust of statutory agencies like the police and local authorities - often because of traumatic experiences in the past.

"Others simply feel that their situation is hopeless and that nobody can help them.

"A minority of people, meanwhile, will sleep rough to assist their begging.

"Again, those people need and deserve support that is appropriate to their needs."

Prime Minister Theresa May said she does not agree with Mr Dudley's comments.