Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

current issue

April – May 2024 : Compassion READ ONLINE


Official headcount drops to 464

October 01 2009
Are they inaccurate or a "useful snapshot"? The government's official headcount of rough sleepers has found there to be just 464 across the whole of England. The annual headcount - mired in controversy because of its allegedly blinkered and inaccurate methodology - was carried out in local authorities across the country earlier this summer. The headcounts found there were 19 fewer people sleeping rough than last year, when the total was 483. The area with the highest number of rough sleepers was the City of Westminster, in London, where 110 people where found to be living on the streets. In Norwich, the figure was eight, just one less than Manchester or Liverpool, and up from none last year. And bizarrely, 11 local authorities, including Warrington, North Lincs, Gateshead and Newham, found there were no rough sleepers in their areas. The annual government Rough Sleepers Count has been heavily criticised in the past as it includes only those who are actually asleep and on The Pavement at the time of counting - meaning that those sleeping in doorways, parks and other places not immediately apparent are ignored. The figures, which are gathered on one night only, do not include people in hostels or other forms of temporary accommodation A spokesman for housing charity Shelter said: "To grasp the true extent of street homeless, other methods - such as surveys and multi-agency monitoring - must be used alongside headcounts. Only with accurate figures can we understand the scale of the problem and help people find a place to stay and live." A headcount carried out by the Simon Community in April found there to be 212 rough sleepers across eight of the capital's boroughs, far more than the government's official figure. But a Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Street counts provide a useful snapshot of the numbers of people sleeping rough on a single night."