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 News Stories

Dautzenberg posing in a mobile phone photo with criminal money on March 26

A criminal from Canning Town who attacked women and snatched their jewellery in West London has been jailed for six years.

16:20
Jackie Litambola and Peach colleagues

The mother of a murdered teenager has backed a “save havens” scheme for young people to help prevent future deaths from street violence.

Siobhan Kangataram and Amanda Harvey, from Network Rail, hand over a very large toy collection.

If your train was delayed recently, there may have been a very good reason for it.

The wool covered tree in Woodgrange Road

Decorating a tree for Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning in Forest Gate.

Christmas14

Most read news

Cook congratulates employees on one of the biggest year’s in Apple’s history.

A Gogglebox family will have to keep their comments about the week’s TV to themselves from now on.

The online encyclopaedia created a special video showing how the year’s event are linked.

People are divided and it’s definitely following a pattern.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition