Leeds: Police to continue with rough sleeper 'sweeps'

A police operation to move rough sleepers out of Leeds city centre is continuing in the run-up to Christmas as temperatures plummet.

The City Neighbourhood Policing Team PT, Leeds City Council's Street Outreach Team, and Safer Leeds, have been working together since the summer to carry out patrols known as 'rough sleeper sweeps'.

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In August, police said as many as 50 people may have been sleeping rough on Leeds's streets.

But three months on, the once daily patrols have been reduced to every other day and no-one has been found sleeping rough on the last three patrols.

Rough sleeping haunts are visited by police at 6am and anyone found sleeping rough is first given a caution under the Vagrancy Act and referred to the Street Outreach Team for help to find supported accommodation.

If found sleeping rough again, they are arrested and prosecuted, with the Street Outreach Team continuing to offer support to them to find accommodation.

Chf Insp Vernon Francis said: "Rough sleepers are a serious issue in the city centre, not just because they cause antisocial behaviour but also because these people need help to turn their lives around.

"Moving them on is only a temporary solution which is why we're committed to working with partners to help find them a home, particularly in the run-up to Christmas when temperatures regularly

drop below freezing.

"By helping them find permanent accommodation, we're putting a stop to the antisocial behaviour problems and helping them get their lives back on track."

Over the last three months 28 people have received warnings for sleeping rough, and of these 13 were arrested after being found sleeping rough for a second time.

Chf Insp Francis added: "We've taken action after listening to the concerns of residents and businesses, and we're keen to hear if any rough sleepers return to the city."

Police have released a short video of efforts to move rough sleepers and find them a home before Christmas. Go to www.westyorkshirepolice.uk.

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