East End charity joins Tower Hamlets patrols to get homeless off the streets

Workers from a charity for the homeless in London’s deprived East End are running joint patrols with local authority enforcement officers to tackle anti-social activity on the street.

The 26-strong team is equipped with CCTV body cameras and wears high-visibility uniforms to help “deter trouble-makers and reassure the public”.

Outreach staff from the Thames Reach and Tower Hamlets enforcement officers are now dealing with rough sleeping, drinking in public and begging.

“It’s a clear message that anti-social behaviour won’t be tolerated,” said the charity’s Mike Murray. “But at the same time support for street people is available.

“These patrols are to reduce the numbers sleeping rough and to allow us to tackle anti-social behaviour like drinking and begging.

“We work more effectively with these joint patrols approaching those known to be aggressive or abusive.

“It will help people get their lives back on track. We can come up with solutions to people’s problems by finding them somewhere safe to stay.”

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The project also links those who need it with drug, alcohol or resettlement services, and help them “move away from a street lifestyle for good.”

The charity is sharing information with Tower Hamlets council to carry out bylaw enforcement and give support to those on the street.

Deputy Mayor Ohid Ahmed said: “Our enforcement officers are being used to help get people off the streets, which reduces anti-social behaviour.”

The patrols are targeting ‘hotspot’ areas which have a problem of rough sleeping and other activity which can then be tackled by the charity’s outreach workers.

The presence enforcement officers “allows a more assertive approach” to persuade those on the streets to accept support.