Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

February – March 2024 : The little things READ ONLINE


Missing links on CHAIN?

April 11 2013
We ask how reliable homelessness figures are if the counting is partial and patchy


Homeless services in London are reducing the number of rough sleepers they register on the capital's key database Chain.

The Pavement has learned that some organisations using the Combined Homeless and Information Network (Chain) are only logging clients if they are bedded down in certain locations or once they have been seen three times.

Teams are also not registering those who are bedded down on a park bench or in a doorway on private property.

However, this directly contravenes Chain guidance, according to Broadway, the charity that runs the network. Becky Rice, Broadway's research and information manager, said outreach teams should register people "the first time they make contact with them on shift if they are rough sleeping ('bedded down') or if they are not bedded down but have been contacted and are vulnerable".

People should be considered to be sleeping rough if they are sleeping or bedded down in the open air (streets, doorways, parks and bus shelters included) or in buildings or other places not designed for habitation such as barns, sheds, car parks, car, derelict boats, stations or bushes, she added.

The Pavement has also been alerted to instances where rough sleepers have come into contact with outreach workers on a number of occasions but have no entry logged on Chain, but Broadway was not aware of this. The five-person Chain team has a number of procedures and checks to ensure their figures are as accurate as possible.

Responsibilities include producing a wide range of reports and analysis, data cleaning, technical development of the system to ensure it meets the needs of all users, working with Greater London Authority (GLA) on special projects such as monitoring for No Second Night Out, StreetLink and the Social Impact Bond project.

This data cleansing can involve, for example, sending out current client lists to hostels to check Chain is up-to-date in terms of who is resident at a hostel and who has now left. While the monitoring reports measure how well teams are performing and meeting targets, such as adding 95 per cent of outreach contacts within 72 hours.

The team also visits projects to deal with any problems that members have using the system and every six months it holds a managers' meeting. Broadway then has regular meetings with the GLA about the progress of the Chain system.

Ms Rice urged anyone who has seen misuse of Chain information to inform the team at Broadway. "The Chain team will follow up any reports of a breach of this protocol and the GLA may be informed," she said.

"If a reported breach is substantiated and deemed serious and significant by the GLA, the project or organisation concerned may have their access to Chain revoked."

If you have a complaint about the Chain system or the services offered by the Chain team, visit