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4th March 2015

Stakeholders Meeting re Eastern Europeans                -           

Attended by the Chairman, George Waite, Vice Chairman Helene Oratore, Mary Regnier – Leigh, Chairman of the Belgravia Forum and Trustee

Belgravia Society

 

City of Westminster Minutes can be accessed Here  

·      ENVIRONMENTAL HOTLINE: TEL 0207 641 2000

 ·      ROUGH SLEEPING HELPLINE: 020 7641 3841

 

 Westminster is a magnet for people coming from abroad and has the services to deal with them but since the arrival of Eastern Europeans, especially the Romanian Gypsies, they have become a source of real concern.  Individuals entering the country under EU law have a right to a residency of 90 days before any deportation can occur – a loop hole which needs to be addressed.  If these individuals are aggressively begging or causing anti-social behavior (ASB), they can then be deported. 

 In regards to begging, there is a need to convey to the local community the seriousness of giving money to people who are not always what

they appear. 

 Hotspots are identified by the ‘Hot Spot Team’ (HST)

 Rough sleepers congregate at Hyde Park Corner, Park Lane and the Marble Arch tunnels, where 2 Easter European speaking workers have been employed to engage with individuals.  At the end of 2014 there were 92 people in the tunnels and by the end of February 2015, the numbers were reduced to 24, due to a consistent message being made and partnership working.

 Many of these individuals are from the same villages and are communicating via word of mouth to return and take advantage of the British system, stretching tolerance levels to the limit. These people are happy to sleep on the streets as they are working and sending money home to their families.  Therefore, they would rather save money than pay for the accommodation on offer at cheap back packer hotels of around £7.00 per night.  In some communities this has become ‘learned behaviour’ and the HST are trying to communicate that this is not acceptable.

 Rough sleepers have been offered supported reconnections by the HST but cannot attain sleeping accommodation, as they are not eligible for benefits.

 Committal of offences are being considered by the Council who are looking at ASB legislation to find better ways to deal with foreign nationals offending, including Public Space Protection Orders.

 On re-offenders – A focal point for the Police has been Westminster Bridge.  Of the 241 arrested in 2014 and 33 to date in 2015, none have reoffended.  In terms of Nationalities arrested – Romanian Gypsies are top (by approximately 3 times) followed by the Polish.

 How much evidence does one need and at what stage can the Police

get involved?

 Private Security firms can help the process of evidence by the removal of rough sleepers from private property and flag up areas of congregation and disrupt them.  Civil action can be taken and acts as a deterrent.  This has worked well for the Cathedral Piazza.  An Eaton Square private security firm has repeatedly removed 3 individuals.

 Continuing to disrupt rough sleepers by private security firms and reporting to the Police, as they can clear the area and help deal with the problems.

 Residents should call 101 with any issues of rough sleeping on private property.  All calls are logged and so can be used as evidence.

 Logging calls via the ward panel also helps to ensure evidence.  The Belgravia Society will continue to monitor and lobby for improvements on dealing with the current situation concerning rough sleepers and Eastern Europeans 

 Any incidents of rough sleeping can be reported

 Call Environmental Action Line on 020 7641 2000 to log calls or call

 Rough Sleeping Helpline on 020 7641 3841

 If you have any comments or concerns regarding the above article please contact the Belgravia Society Team by email below:

info@belgraviasociety.org