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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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September street count: numbers up

May 18 2009
Westminster "disappointed" by increased number of homeless people counted in September Westminster City Council carried out a street count in the last week of September, and described describing the findings as "disappointing". A spokesperson confirmed that the council did a full, verified count and that 105 people were sleeping rough on the streets of Westminster on the night of the operation. An additional 15 people are considered separately, as they are so-called A10s, or immigrants from the latest countries that gained access to the EU, including Poland. The council said the figure, which had increased from last year, was disappointing. In a statement, the council said: "We are striving to reduce the number to as near zero as possible and maintain it there." The council also pointed out that two recent counts had found fewer than 100 people on the streets, which they described as a significant fall from figures in 1998, when the government outlined firm new plans to reduce the London figure of 1,850. The statement added: "numbers have dropped dramatically since 1998 because of the hard work of Westminster and key voluntary sector providers." The government requires authorities to conduct independently verified counts three times a year. However, Westminster holds as many as nine or 10 a year because of the size of the borough. The council said: "We are a leading authority in this respect. We consider street counts essential to provide a snapshot of rough sleeping and they assist in ensuring that vulnerable rough sleepers are identified and assisted off the streets." According to Westminster's spokespeople, street counts carried out by authorities are then complemented by background intelligence in a bid to create a "very useful aid to ensure that the most vulnerable are targeted and offered support and opportunities to leave the streets." The council declined to comment on when a further count will be carried out after the winter shelters open. It said that the details of the latest street count would be published by Communities and Local Government as part of its annual national rough sleeping street count data. The latest annual report on rough sleeping was published in June 2007, listing results of street counts that had taken place since January 2006.
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