Search

Authorities powerless to move on rough sleepers blighting Stratford shopping centre

11:54 07 May 2014

Rough sleepers in The Sratford Shopping Centre

Rough sleepers in The Sratford Shopping Centre

Archant

Dozens of rough sleepers are blighting a popular shopping centre – with the authorities powerless to stop them.

A security guard speaks to homeless man in The Stratford CentreA security guard speaks to homeless man in The Stratford Centre

Groups of homeless men regularly camp out in Stratford Shopping Centre at night, a stone’s throw from the Westfield Stratford City mega mall and busy railway station.

However, because the centre is a public right of way – used by locals to cut through – Newham Council is unable to close it at night, despite complaints of drinking, drug taking and even defecating.

Some of the 60-plus retailers at the centre have also complained their presence affects business, including intimidating shoppers, with a spokesman claiming they were “very aware of the issue”.

One rough sleeper, a father-of-three who gave his name as “JB” and described himself as a British national in his late 30s, said sometimes there was “trouble” and that often their was a “mess” left behind.

Homelss man "JB" sits in a doorway in the Stratford Shopping CentreHomelss man "JB" sits in a doorway in the Stratford Shopping Centre

Many of the rough sleepers are foreign nationals, often from Eastern European, meaning they have a right to stay in the UK provided their country is signed up to the European Union’s free movement of persons agreement.

JB, who admitted to having stayed at the centre on and off for over a year-and-a-half, said despite the occasional immigration raid officials “never keep us out,” adding: “The next night people come in and go to sleep and it’s OK.” The group are routinely moved on at about 7am so cleaners can get to work.

Earlier this year Newham Council launched a crackdown on rough sleepers in the borough named operation Alabama, in collaboration with police, the UK Border Agency and homeless support agency Thames Reach.

But a spokesman confirmed the council had “no powers to simply move rough sleepers on” and said police powers were limited to actual offences.

They added: “The council follows a process that offers rough sleepers in the mall an opportunity to move on or seek support in finding a way off the streets. We do that by issuing warnings that their behaviour constitutes anti-social behaviour.”

A spokesman for Stratford Shopping Centre said: “The mall is a public highway. However we are doing all we can, working with the London Borough of Newham and the local police, to resolve it.”

Latest Newham News Stories

09:00
The scheme is part of the £3.7billion regeneration programme for Canning Town and Custom House.

Plans to transform Custom House through a multi-million-pound redevelopment scheme have been given the green light.

Newham Council
Yesterday, 19:57
Bradley Quaresma was 'always smiling'

Family and friends have been paying tribute to a man that was found dead in a Stratford park yesterday.

Yesterday, 17:14
Police outside West Ham Lane Recreation Ground

A third person has been arrested following the death of a 20-year-old man in West Ham Lane Recreation Ground yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday, 16:02
Allied Healthcare will not re-tender for home care services in Newham after the CQC found it had failed to improve its services in May. Picture: Peter Byrne/PA images

A home care provider has neglected to improve its services after failing a health watchdog’s inspection twice in seven months.

Care Quality Commission

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Which book character do you share cleaning habits with?

Whether you have more in common with put-upon Cinderella, emotionally turbulent Jane Eyre, or easily distracted Mole, you’re sure to appreciate four sessions of free cleaning. Enter our quiz for your chance to win. All entrants can get £10 off their first clean when making a repeat booking.

Read more
£15k prize bundle

Imagine having the opportunity to win an incredible £15,000 bundle of some of the most amazing prizes available. Well, for one lucky contest entrant that dream could soon become a reality because we at MyOffers are offering an incredible free prize bundle that will make even the most hardened person wild with excitement.

Read more

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now