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Islington council will not pass private rough sleeper info to the Home Office

Islington housing chief says he will not break the trust of homeless

19 July, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Jon Glackin with Streets Kitchen volunteers Sam Hadfield and Ronnie Moyse

HOMELESSNESS campaigners have welcomed a pledge from the Town Hall that personal data relating to rough sleepers will not be passed to the Home Office.

Housing chief Labour councillor Diarmaid Ward, said that Islington’s work to “assist rough sleepers is based on trust”.

He said this meant that the council “will not be cooperating with the Home Office enforcement teams in sharing the personal data of rough sleepers.”

He added: “We also ask our partner agencies not to do so, and we have been unequivocal in our opposition to this practice.”

Islington works with a string of agencies including St Mungo’s, the Pillion Trust and Streets Kitchen to support homeless people in the borough.

The Information Commissioner’s Office concluded last year that “it appears likely” that St Mungo’s “passed locations of rough sleepers to the Home Office” and that personal data “may” have been passed from their outreach team to the Home Office without consent.

In some cases, such information can be used by the Home Office to deport people.

Jon Glackin, who runs Streets Kitchen which offers free food to the homeless each day of the week, said: “The council are doing a good thing because we have people coming to us who are afraid to go to other services because there is a fear that their information will be passed on to the Home Office and they could be deported.”

Mr Glackin lobbied both Islington and Haringey councils to ensure rough sleepers were protected from forced deportation.

But he has now called on all local authorities and homelessness organisations throughout the country to make the same pledge not to share private details.

Councillor Diarmaid Ward 

Cllr Ward said: “In addition to other forms of support the council now employs a ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ [NRPF] case worker. The NRPF case worker offers one-to-one advice and support for people from outside the UK who are rough sleeping in Islington.”

He said this would help the person involved move away from the streets with the range of support that is available, without being referred to the Home Office.

“We have full confidence in the professionalism, expertise and dedication of our outreach teams, and we will not compromise the success of their work by encouraging them to participate in the hostile environment,” Cllr Ward said.

The council has previously worked with Streets Kitchen and the campaign group Housing Justice to open a shelter in an empty warehouse in Hornsey Road.

The aim is to do the same during the winter months later this year.

St Mungo’s has said its policy is not to share details “except when an individual has given their consent, or in situations where people are at significant risk to themselves or someone else”.

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