Government to pay compensation to European rough sleepers

For over three years, the Home Office – in collaboration with local authorities and even homeless charities – detained and deported European nationals solely for the ‘crime’ of sleeping rough.

(Teo and Marineta were just another European couple working in England, before being detained under this policy)

Since the 2014 measures restricting access to benefits for EU migrants, many facing homelessness can no longer access homeless hostels. Soaring rents, and new ‘right to rent’ checks add up to a situation where EU migrants out of (and even in) work are forced to sleep rough. Yet rather than receiving needed help & support, EU rough sleepers were targeted by the Home Office for ‘removal’. It’s a policy that served two overlapping governmental aims: make Britain a hostile environment, and socially cleanse London & other cities of the poor and homeless.

Following a campaign led by grassroots group NELMA, the policy was challenged in the high court and was ruled to be illegal last December. Now, victims of the Home Office policy are able to claim compensation. Almost 700 people were deported by the policy last year alone, and the Home Office says it is currently dealing with 45 cases.

If you know/come across any EEA rough sleepers who were affected by the Home Office policy, please get in touch with NELMA so we can make sure they get advice about damages.

The legal firm that took the case against the Home Office policy has now filed a complaint against St Mungo’s – one of the charities working with the Home Office. The Guardian reports that:

“An internal St Mungo’s document obtained by the Guardian, entitled Enforcement policy for EU and non-EU nationals not engaging with outreach team, states that if migrant rough sleepers did not agree to voluntarily return to their home countries within 12 weeks ‘then their names will be forwarded to the UKBA [United Kingdom Border Agency]”. The document adds: ‘These individuals’ details will be passed on to the ICE by the outreach team. Following this a joint shift will be agreed with outreach, ICE, Parks Police to target/tackle these individuals.'”

The complaint has been filed with the Charity Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The policy of detaining and deporting EEA rough sleepers would not have been stopped without the work of NELMA. If you’re able to make a donation, please do. All money goes towards their vital work:

North East London Migrant ActionAccount No. 20393289

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