Haringey Council will not be cooperating with the Home Office enforcement teams in sharing personal data of rough sleepers.
A statement from Cllr Emine Ibrahim, Cabinet Member for Housing and Estate Renewal:
The Haringey Rough Sleeping Taskforce is a partnership between the Council, Homes for Haringey, All People All Places, Thames Reach and St Mungo’s. Thames Reach deliver our street outreach team and they work tirelessly with people facing rough sleeping to access accommodation and support relevant to their needs and aspirations. We are very proud of the work the Taskforce does, and the supportive approach they take to enable people who are rough sleeping to exit street homelessness. This is an increasingly difficult task, with a growing homelessness crisis in London created by austerity, welfare reform and a lack of social and affordable housing.
More than 65% of people rough sleeping in Haringey are not British Citizens. But they are all Haringey residents and a welcome part of our diverse borough. Due to their limited eligibility to access benefits, housing and healthcare, non-British people are some of the most vulnerable people on our streets and we are severely restricted in how we can support them. Nonetheless, the focus of our work has always and will always be about helping people to exit street homelessness safely, with dignity and with choice.
Unlike some councils, we do not permit or encourage our homelessness outreach teams to work with Home Office immigration enforcement teams. We know that working with these teams detrimentally affects our relationships with some of the most vulnerable people on our streets. Our homelessness services will never pass on people’s personal data to the Home Office without their explicit consent. We believe this is a contravention of their right to privacy and has little effect on their exit from street homelessness, which is the sole reason for our work with them. We do help people experiencing homelessness in Haringey return to their home countries. However we only do this, and will only ever do this, with their explicit permission and when a package of support and transition have been developed with them.
We would like to make it clear that we will not cooperate with Home Office enforcement teams in relation to homelessness and rough sleeping. This will be made clear to all our staff and external organisations who deliver services on our behalf. Any organisation we continue to work with will be expected to share our position of non-cooperation and non-complicity with the hostile environment. We expect these principles both within the borders of our borough and outside.