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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Westminster fails to follow up on street count accuracy

September 09 2009
Council has been slow to take action, despite media interest in the manipulation of head counts Westminster Council has been slow to take decisive action, despite the national media spotlight highlighting the manipulation of head counts. In July 2009 The Pavement's ongoing investigation into the accuracy of street counts was broadcast on the BBC Radio 5live. In an interview, Councillor Philippa Roe expressed her concerns about the allegations and said she would take action. The report included minutes from a meeting on 2nd Septem ber, 2008, three weeks ahead of an official count, in which council representatives, local police and outreach workers from St Mungo's outlined plans to carry out a 'dummy run' for the street count. Police and outreach workers would do night shifts from 21st September leading up to the count. The minutes stated: "They will be adopting some tactics used from the March count to move people on." But this was vehemently denied by Councillor Roe. "The teams have been written to, to spell out absolutely clearly that we do not want any manipulation of the figures, because it has never been our policy," she told the BBC. However, over a month after the report was aired, Westminster Council has not carried out an investigation. A spokesperson said: "We believe the current methodology is a valid method to count the number of rough sleepers in central London. We undertake three full street counts each year, and these counts comply fully with the CLG Protocol and Guidance." When asked if Councillor Roe had fulfilled her promise to contact outreach teams, the person added: "As soon as the minutes were brought to our attention, Councillor Roe instructed our rough sleeping team to contact the key outreach organisations to reiterate our joint goal in bringing down rough sleeping numbers and helping rough sleepers off the street." As yet no responses from these organisations have been recorded.