Local councils in England are refusing to percentage sensitive personal records of hard sleepers with the Home Office over fears it may bring about their deportation, the Guardian has learned.
A secret program the use of homelessness charities to skip hard sleepers’ private information immediately to the Home Office without their consent was revealed by using the Observer this month. Data shared through the scheme, which is currently in its trial phase, could result in the deportation of non-UK rough sleepers in a few instances.
It is known that 11 councils, inclusive of Brent, Croydon, Enfield, Islington, Hackney, Haringey, Lambeth, Liverpool, Newham, Oxford, and Rugby, will no longer percentage the private statistics unless explicit consent has been given. Some local government has slammed the program, criticizing it as a manifestation of the “adverse surroundings” policy for difficult sleepers.
Haringey council has called on homeless charities that hold contracts with the borough to follow the identical precept of refusing to cooperate with the Home Office enforcement crew, even when operating in other geographic regions.
Emine Ibrahim, the cabinet member for housing and property renewal at Haringey council, stated: “This is set privacy, this is about records protection and it’s miles about human rights. How you behave as carrier provider in a state of affairs where humans are at their most vulnerable is essential.
“Our number one cognizance is to assist humans safely exit the streets. We understand the risks which might be worried about rough sleeping and we want to ensure we’ve plans in place to ensure that, something people do, there are desire and consent is concerned.”
Linda Smith, the deputy chief of Oxford metropolis council, said: “I changed into deeply concerned to study the Observer document at the Home Office looking to use homelessness outreach services to target non-UK hard sleepers for deportation. Oxford town council will never allow this to occur in Oxford.”
Smith said the council might best assist people experiencing homelessness in Oxford return to their domestic nations with their unequivocal consent. “The Home Office’s opposed surroundings policy has no region in Oxford and we name on other councils to undertake our function,” she added.
Leading homelessness charities have come underneath hearth in the beyond for sharing difficult sleepers’ personal records with the Home Office, main to their removal from the UK.
Lynnie Hinnigan, Liverpool city council’s deputy mayor and cupboard member for housing, stated: “In Liverpool, we will not aid a policy that creates adverse surroundings for tough sleepers.
“People who’re sleeping rough are vulnerable and we paintings very, very difficult in Liverpool to advantage their consider in order that we will provide them help.” Hinnigan pointed to the homeless refuge Labre House, announcing “it ensures a solution for all people who wish one, no matter what their situations can be”.
Last yr, the London borough of Newham turned into named England’s homelessness hotspot. The city’s mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz, stated: “We will not collude with the Home Office immigration service to in addition their repugnant hostile environment, which seeks to similarly marginalize and persecute our maximum susceptible citizens.” She delivered that the council recently installation a task force to tackle the housing crisis.
Diarmaid Ward, the govt member for housing and improvement at Islington council, said the authority would no longer compromise the fulfillment of the paintings their outreach group does via encouraging them to take part in the antagonistic surroundings.
Ward said: “Islington will no longer be cooperating with the Home Office enforcement groups in sharing the non-public facts of tough sleepers. We also ask our associate agencies no longer to do so, and we have been unequivocal in our opposition to this practice.”
Alison Butler, Croydon council’s deputy chief and cabinet member for houses and Gateway offerings, said: “We do not and will not pass statistics on hard sleepers to Home Office enforcement teams. We help people to remain here and we also assist human beings experiencing homelessness go back to their home international locations if that is their choice. However we most effectively do that, and will best ever try this, in which they have expressed their want to go back, and when a package of guide and transition has been advanced with them.”
The Home Office set up the program, referred to as the Rough Sleeping Support Service, final yr.
A previous plan to deport EU tough sleepers was deemed illegal and discriminatory with the aid of the excessive court docket 18 months ago.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are upset with the councils’ statements and had been clean that the Rough Sleeping Support Service isn’t the use of charities or neighborhood government to goal difficult sleepers.
“Charities and nearby authorities use the carrier on an entirely voluntary foundation and no records are handed to the Home Office for help without their expertise.”