Hackney Council won’t be sharing rough sleepers’ personal data through Home Office scheme

Mayor Phil Glanville, left, joins councillors and volunteers on the count in November. Picture: Hack

Mayor Phil Glanville, left, joins councillors and volunteers on the count in November. Picture: Hackney Council - Credit: Archant

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

Housing chief Cllr Rebecca Rennison 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: "Our housing outreach team do not share any data with the Home Office on where rough sleepers are bedded down. Our priority is working with rough sleepers, building trust, and getting them off the streets and into secure accommodation.

"The only time we would share data with the Home Office is with an individual's consent and to confirm their immigration status in order to help them access support and accommodation quickly."

Hackney, which earlier this year announced a Housing First trial, is one of 11 councils to refuse to participate in the scheme, along with neighbouring boroughs Islington, Haringey and Newham.

As of November, when the official snapshot count was done, there were 23 rough sleepers in the borough.

That's up from 18 in 2017, and only accounts for those who are actually sleeping, about to bed down or are bedded down. Homeless people in hostels or shelters aren't counted, nor are those who are begging.

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

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Between 2015 and 2017 ICE 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 only 1 of these was from Hackney.

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.