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The City feels Operation Poncho

May 18 2009
Poncho aims to check the welfare of anyone sleeping rough in the City... in the very early hours City of London police officers, along with the City's Drug Action Team and St Mungo's, have been approaching rough sleepers in the Square Mile to check their welfare.

Since May 2007, the three groups as part of 'Operation Poncho II' have made contact with 343 rough sleepers in the area. The official aim of Operation Poncho is, ostensibly, to check the welfare of anyone sleeping rough in the City and to ensure access to housing and services before the colder winter months arrive.

A spokesperson for the City of London Police claimed that, as a result of this operation, a number of rough sleepers had taken up offers of accommodation. Luton Sinfield, community services manager for St Mungo's, said: "We welcome any initiative that will help homeless men and women off the street and into appropriate accommodation and support. "Rough sleepers are among the most vulnerable people in our society and we are committed to working in partnership with all necessary agencies to aid their recovery."

However, readers might be forgiven for failing to thank some of the people on the Operation Poncho patrol, as one reader contacted The Pavement to inform us that the check-ups were taking place at the very early hours of the morning. The reader, who was approached while he slept near St Paul's, said: "At approximately 4am, I had a visit from two police officers informing me that I could expect to be woken every day this week because I was sleeping rough in the City."