Lambeth Council, in partnership with homelessness charity St Mungo's and local police, has completed a two-week operation to move on rough sleepers and street drinkers in the Waterloo area, with the number of rough sleepers being reduced by 50%.
According to the council the operation had two aims: to disrupt the behaviour patterns of the entrenched street populationto encourage them to seek appropriate professional help, while the second was to 'deep clean' areas traditionally occupied by rough sleepers. Many of these areas around Waterloo Station and the BFI London IMAX Cinema are often not thoroughly cleaned by the council's contractor's staff due to violence or the threat of violence from the local street population.
The operation was assisted by enforcement from Kennington police to move people from areas requiring deep clean by Lambeth Street Care. St Mungo's, via their street outreach teams and through referrals from the police and council teams, were able to engage rough sleepers and offer to help them in variety of ways.
Council leader and Bishops ward councillor Peter Truesdale said: "This operation has been very successful and represents a good example of partnership working between Lambeth, Kennington police and St Mungo's. It has led to a huge improvement for people living and working around Waterloo and, importantly, successful outcomes for many rough sleepers in the area."
The initiative was welcomed by housing charity St Mungo's South London contact and assessment team manager Richard Cunningham. "St Mungo's feels that Waterloo should be a safe and pleasant place for all the community members. We are supporting Lambeth council's efforts to regenerate the area by offering intensive outreach services to the deeply entrenched rough sleepers who use the walkways and underpasses around the IMAX cinema complex.
"Our efforts are proving successful and a significant number of this group are now engaging in our housing and health services, " he added.
Ian Lucas, Facilities Manager at the British Film Institute – which runs the IMAX cinema – said: "The paved areas and tunnels all show significant improvement and this has been welcomed both by ourselves and our patrons, as well as our corporate clients. The reduction in the number of rough sleepers has had a positive impact on the high number of tourists that visit ourselves and other local entertainment venues."
Last month St Mungo's was been awarded the contract to deliver Contact and Assessment Teams (street outreach workers for rough sleepers) for both Lambeth and Southwark boroughs. In 2002 it announced that its previous work had reduced the rough sleeping population in Lambeth and Southwark by two thirds.