Gentle words were had. I understand they have to sleep somewhere. It's the drinking and noise that are the problem.
In that light,'bums' is mildly affectionate given their noise levels every night immediately outside the window.
Dossers, aimless wanton losers, tramps, lost causes, persons at their point of need, mental cases, winos, miscreants. These would all be more derogatory and there are much worse terms. On their behaviour, some of these are arguably appropriate whatever offence it may cause.
But I agree, they remain human beings and seem like kind souls - if broken - when you speak with them.
However, would like to know if anyone has had success with more subtle ways of moving them along or making their chose environment a little less appealing.
Given that the noise is the problem, moving them along may not be the solution you actually need. If you do speak to the police or community wardens it might be worth making that point. Though I do appreciate that loud drunks - be they homeless or otherwise - tend to be unaware of, and apparently unable to control, their noise levels once they're actually falling round pissed outside your windows.
I wonder if you might live in an area where the is a dispersal order in place? if so, the police can move them out of the area for 24 hours. Often this can be sufficient to break the habit of gathering in particular areas (though yes, it will move it on to somewhere else...).
You could write to your local councillor who might be able to help - he/she would also be able to advise whether there was a disperal order operating. It could be a problem that other residents in the area are also experiencing and so would need a wider ranging solution.
Hope you get it sorted out. I know these things can be very trying...
I had an issue with homeless guys in a disused area outside my flat. It didn't bother me much until they started openly doing heroin and smoking crack. Not the nicest view from my window every morning!
My advice would be to ignore the police (they were useless) and complain straight to your councillor. I found my local ones to be very effective at moving them on.
You could talk to them politely, but in my experience complaining to anyone about the noise they make invariably causes conflict. People never realise how noise travels.
On a side note I was shocked that one of the councillors, who was a lib dem, when I spoke to her referred to the homeless people in the area as vermin.