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No sleeping signs

May 18 2009
As seen on the Strand and around Whitehall - another part of the squeeze applied to rough sleepers As seen on the Strand and around Whitehall - another part of the squeeze applied to rough sleepers
Police are encouraging Westminster shopkeepers to display ‘no sleeping‘ signs Police are encouraging shopkeepers in Westminster to display 'no sleeping' signs as a deterrent to rough sleepers. The posters give police the permission to move on anyone found sleeping in a doorway, as they can see the shop keeper has not consented. Homeless charity The Simon Community has condemned the move as cruel, and called for a boycott of all shops with the signs. Simon Community director Tim Nicholls said: "There are not enough bed spaces for rough sleepers, so to wake them up and hound them out of areas is nothing but cruel. "Our recent head-count found 301 people sleeping rough in central London, with only 42 spaces at hostels. "This is yet another example of officialdom becoming removed from compassion for the weak, and seeking to criminalise and demonise those who do not make it in society." The scheme has triggered outrage across the homeless community. One shop, the Spar on the Strand, had its windows smashed, and the signs were rumoured to be the cause. The company, which put up 'no sleeping' signs several weeks ago, had been working with the Westminster Police on this initiative. A spokesman for the Met, which launched the scheme with Safer Neighbourhood officers, confirmed police were encouraging shopkeepers to display the signs, as they give police more power to move people on. He said: "Shopkeepers who do not want people sleeping in their door-ways have been encouraged to display a poster stating no sleeping in this door way. "The initiative was instigated due to the number of people sleeping rough in doorways who state they have the permission of shopkeepers and in the absence of the shopkeeper, police are powerless to move them on. "The poster clearly states they are not allowed to sleep there."
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