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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Update on Poncho?

March 09 2011
It‘s in force, but that is all the Corporation can say...

Operation Poncho, the City of London's programme to deal with rough sleepers, remains in force.

The Pavement asked City of London Police to give us an update of the progress of the scheme, but they were unable to do so without the consent of the City of London Corporation, explaining that because Poncho is a 'multi-agency' operation, any information about it has to be released with the Corporation's consent. All media releases about Poncho have to go through the Corporation's press office, and with the person responsible for Poncho on leave, this left us without anyone authorised to give us any information.

Poncho is run jointly with the homeless charity Broadway, which works to place rough sleepers in hostels and, ultimately, get them off the streets.

The programme has been controversial, however, because in some instances rough sleepers have been woken up in very early hours of the morning by patrol teams and made to move on. The team has also been known to 'hot wash' certain areas (ie, spray them down with water), a practice which makes it impossible for any more rough sleepers to bed down.

A 'Rough sleeper co-ordinator report' released in 2009 mentions a 'Poncho list' of locations targeted by the patrols, another area The Pavement has made inquiries about. It appears that the list comprises local businesses who have complained about rough sleepers bedding down on their premises. The report details various outcomes for rough sleepers found by the patrols: some are booked into hostels; those with health problems are sent to hospital; some are sent "back to country of origin"; and others are placed in either council or private rented accommodation. It is not clear from the report how the team determines who should be sent to a hostel and who gets put in a flat. This is another issue The Pavement will be raising with the City of London Corporation.