UK homelessness crisis risks people being crushed alive
At least seven homeless people were crushed to death in the last five years as Britain’s homelessness crisis has driven people to sleep in dumpster bins, said a report released Monday.
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The report found a surge in homeless people sleeping in bins over the past half-decade and called for action to prevent “terrible fatalities” following the bins being emptied into bin lorries with people still inside.
It was commissioned by Biffa, a waste company, along with the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and the Open University.
Biffa said that between April and December 2019, 190 “near-misses” were recorded. London, Cardiff and Sheffield are among the epicenters of the crisis.
Winter was the peak time for such incidents as rough sleepers sought shelter from the cold weather. Homeless people were found in the bins all year round, however.
Unite, Britain’s second largest trade union, said a fifth of those working in the waste disposal sector had found homeless people sleeping in bins.
Petra Salva of the homeless charity St Mungo’s was quoted in the report as saying: “Latest statistics show that 726 homeless people died while street homeless or in emergency accommodation in England and Wales in 2018. As this report notes, regrettably, homelessness and rough sleeping have risen drastically over the last decade. People dying while homeless is an absolute tragedy.
“Terrible fatalities occur when people seek refuge in bins. We think it’s unacceptable that people are forced to sleep rough in the first place but almost unthinkable that people are so desperate that they will seek refuge in bin containers.”
Trevor Nicoll, president of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, said: “The issue of people seeking shelter in bins continues to be a challenge for the resources and waste management sector, and the risk is likely to grow as the number of homeless people sleeping rough rises.”
A government spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “It is completely unacceptable that anyone should have to face sleeping in these conditions in modern Britain. This does not reflect the society we should be, and this is why we have committed to ending rough sleeping by the end of this parliament.”
“We have also committed a record £1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) into funding services for rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless and have introduced the Homelessness Reduction Act, which means councils [can] take action to prevent homelessness before it happens.”
In 2018, housing charity Shelter said that at least 320,000 people were homeless in Britain. Between 2018 and 2019, there was an 18% on-year increase in rough sleeping in London, according to figures published by the Greater London Authority.