Members Comments & Concerns
Members Comments and Concerns summarised in italics as follows:-
Re concerns raised at the Forum with the use of the wording 'nuisance' and 'street nuisance', perhaps the wording in law or the Act(s) should be used so that there is no confusion or future challenge… but would there then need to be different wording for different available enforcement action? For example re PSPO's and the Power to make orders:-
(1) A local authority may make a public spaces protection order if satisfied on reasonable grounds that two conditions are met.
(2) The first condition is that—
(a) activities carried on in a public place within the authority’s area have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality, or
(b) it is likely that activities will be carried on in a public place within that area and that they will have such an effect.
No mention of 'nuisance' is referred to; actual wording is ‘detrimental effect on the quality of life…’ so would agree with the Forum that the word ‘nuisance’ is ‘unhelpful’ in this instance, perhaps just refer to these ‘issues’ as street ‘issues’ but feel it needs to be firm in law.
It is good to note that Rough Sleeping will not be subject to any future enforcement action; as the Policy states, rough sleeping is not a criminal offence. There would be major concerns with any enforcement proposals. The Forum fully supports the Council in adoption of the No Second Night Out Policy and commissioning of Support Services; we especially thank Kath Rees. It would be good for all to have a shared understanding of present limitations for rough sleepers, such as no NSNO Hub Drop-In/NSNO Day Centre; no 24/7 assessment centre or 24/7 Outreach Service, which is also recognised as being significantly under resourced; Streetlink is good in helping to produce a national NSNO coordinated response for the general public, but is primarily a messenger service with a delayed response time especially over weekends, and is no help in an emergency for Forum members on the ‘front line’ so to speak. We would like to see a return to being able to have a direct link to Outreach Workers and working with them. Perhaps this is something can be raised at the next Forum.
There is real concern that other issues/factors such as Street Drinking, Begging and Drug Use could be inadvertently or otherwise, widened and encompass Rough Sleepers, when we all know rough sleepers often have complex and chaotic lifestyles including alcohol and drug misuse. As remarked by P3, Rough Sleepers are not Street Drinkers. There is already this worry when rough sleepers are linked with begging in the Policy, page 7.
It is therefore felt that it is very important that there should be a way of sharing monitoring of individuals who are ‘not engaged’ and ‘engaged’ and who go through the ‘Steps’ with Project Solace and appropriate Support Services; perhaps this can be explored further to give the Forum confidence in the outcomes. It would be good to know who are the Support Services and agencies involved? Who is the alcohol strategic lead for the County? Is there an alcohol reduction harm policy?
On a point of discussion, it is highly questionable whether rough sleeping by itself can really be said to cause detriment to the quality of life of others in the area.There would need to be evidence of the ‘detriment’ caused by those who are simply sleeping rough. A distinction would need to be drawn between rough sleeping and anti-social behavior committed by people who happen to be out on the street, whether homeless or not.
We would like to explore what happens to individuals, such as Street Drinkers, who are say subject to an exclusion DPPO or future PSPO order from the City Centre where it may well be necessary to access dedicated support services such as Turning Point to help them move away from their illness/ addiction to alcohol with acute health effects etc., Would this be considered in any assessment process to look at risks to individuals? Alcohol is a potentially addictive psychoactive substance particularly for specific risk groups.
Re Street Drinkers and the present DPPO, which is stated as already being in place, it is noted that this will be replaced by a PSPO in September 2017. A PSPO is seen by some as a draconian piece of legislation which criminalises individuals if they breach an order... also concerns of effectiveness of fines if they don’t have the financial means to pay related fines. We would like to see the Forum being part of the necessary PSPO formal consultation process. The consultation undertaken by Leicester City Council with regard to a proposed PSPO to Tackle Street Drinking may be of help, click here for their PSPO Findings Report. A Q&A re PSPO’s will be on the Forums web site.
There is also concern about the reference to the 'Night Shelter', page 7. Feel that this is unhelpful and should be deleted as this seems to have no bearing on the policy itself. It would be interesting if there is actual evidence that any awareness ‘on the streets’ of the old Night Shelter, draws in homeless individuals to the City as inferred? To recap, the Night Shelter was started by the Faith Groups when people were seen dying on the streets. It was a humanitarian response to a desperate need. It has been recognised that the GEAR Projects Night Shelter had been wrongly blamed for failing to resolve the 'revolving door' syndrome / cycle of homelessness, when they were only contracted by the County Council and Districts to provide an emergency night shelter from 8pm to 8am and that there had been a major lack of support from the authorities, etc.,…. it was only ever going to be as good as to what comes after.
At a meeting with Mark Simms, now CEO of P3, the following agreed statement was minuted...'It was recognised that the GEAR Projects night shelter had been wrongly blamed for failing to resolve the revolving door syndrome/ cycle of homelessness, when they were only contracted to provide an emergency night shelter from 8pm to 8am; it was agreed that there had been a major lack of support, and a strategic review of the approach to ending homelessness lifestyle cycles was welcome and timely'.....see full minutes of this meeting in 'Members Area'.
Just wonder how we got from the Street Drinkers first draft model based on Domestic Abuse as presented to the Forum on the 9th March, which we were told worked well with individuals but not ‘space’ based/ geographical areas, to the Safe & Attractive Streets Policy: Draft May 2016 draft Model. The Forum approved the MEAM approach and sadly there is no mention of MEAM in the Policy. Amanda said that MEAM works really well. It would be really positive if MEAM could be included somewhere in the Policy as a way forward in dealing with individuals. From the meeting in March, Chris Keppie, CHC, was looking to put together a more detailed MEAM proposal, but know he has been very busy re new funding for the Outreach Service; did this happen? It is good to hear the need to explore implementing a “MEAM” type approach and work with the various commissioners in future works, if it is found that the system works against the individuals.
It would also be helpful if there was wording in the Policy to the affect that if there wasn’t suitable support or accommodation currently available for an individual, the Forum has frequently raised the lack of suitable accommodation, then Step 1 and Step 2 shouldn’t be seen as exhausted, so Step 3 doesn’t kick in.
In the minutes of the 9th March it was recognised that enforcement is a high-risk strategy for very vulnerable and those with mental health problems (JRF Report Refers). Are 2gether involved as seen as a critical element in support of these individuals?
It is really helpful to know that Phil and Project Solace etc., are genuinely very keen to engage and explore/facilitate support as the first parts of the process. Only if someone repeatedly refuses to engage or accept appropriate support, and are not vulnerable, don’t have mental health problems or chaotic and multiple complex needs, would the third enforcement stage be considered as a very last resort.
Obviously allot of hard work has gone into the draft policy and pleased that there is a focus on understanding reasons for behaviour as opposed to enforcement.
- Members have concerns around 'enforcement' for the vulnerable, those with mental health problems
- a major issue of concern was the use of 'catch all' PSPO's and 'criminalising' individuals which we were told would not be used
- the Forum looked to and supported the MEAM holistic approach
- reporting on street drinking had gone right down, need to review police stats
- worries about views in the draft around 'engagement' and those unable to 'engage' such as those with mental health issues
- major lack of supported accommodation in the City which could seriously undermine 'support'
- lack of 'first point of contact' in accordance with NSNO to take rough sleepers and very vulnerable individuals off the street into a place of safety, etc
- concern over discrimination of those with mental health issues
- rough sleepers are not street drinkers
- strategic direction is needed for those with an alcohol related illness, what is in place at present?
- while being fully supportive of Streetlink and the Outreach Service there needs to be a shared understanding of present limitations; etc.,
We would be grateful if you could please come back with some suggestions on how we can take this forward together from here, continued consultation, etc.