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Council, police and charities join forces for new project to help rough sleepers

Rough sleepers in Swindon are to benefit from a new scheme intended to help them get better access to support services and encourage them to come off the streets.

Published: Wednesday, 2nd December 2020

Project Luscombe, which launches today, is a joint initiative between Swindon Borough Council, Wiltshire Police, Threshold Housing Link and Swindon Night Shelter.

The aim of the project is to make the process of receiving support easier and more integrated for rough sleepers in Swindon. Partner organisations will work together to assess individual needs and find solutions for rough sleepers.

People who are rough sleeping in the town will be given a blue intervention notice which will contain all the information they need about how and where they can receive help and support, depending on their needs.

Only as a last resort will Wiltshire Police consider issuing Criminal Behaviour Orders to try to ensure that those who engage in criminal behaviour are motivated instead to seek the help and support they need to turn away from crime.

Councillor Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “It’s important to stress that this project is about working with our partners to try make sure rough sleepers know about, and have access to, the support they need.

“It’s about reinforcing that the help is there and available. Ultimately, our aim is always to encourage rough sleepers to feel able to come off the streets and into safe accommodation.”

Sergeant James Neighbour, from Swindon Community Policing Team’s neighbourhoods team, said he hoped the new scheme would enable rough sleepers to access support before the need for formal police intervention.

He said: “This approach is designed to encourage early intervention – signposting people to the support that is already in place, so they can get the appropriate help to keep themselves safe.

“We are hoping that this will help reduce anti-social behaviour and criminality, solving problems before they escalate, and ultimately reducing the need for police involvement.

“However, when needed, we will use Criminal Behaviour Orders to ensure issues are resolved.”

Jason Biggs, from Threshold Housing Link, said: “It is a sad fact that often through coercion and organised exploitation, some individuals become deeply involved in activities that make homelessness a difficult reality to escape. Effectively supporting such person away from the streets requires well-integrated, multi-agency support.

“Without doubt, the sooner people can be assisted to enter emergency and resettlement accommodation, receive support to overcome substance dependence, receive professional support to promote mental wellbeing and engage with medical care if necessary, then the better will be the overall outcomes for such an individual”.

Dan Read Operations Manager at Swindon Night Shelter, said: “Swindon Night Shelter is pleased to be part of such a positive initiative. It is our hope that the project will positively highlight the broad spectrum of services available to those that find themselves homeless, or vulnerably housed in our town.

“We look forward to welcoming those given notices to The Haven Day Centre, and working with them and other services towards positive change and outcomes”.

The project is the continuation of the work already carried out by the Council, and its partners, over the pandemic.

It is hoped the initiative will ensure that rough sleeping is vastly reduced in Swindon through the provision of joined-up services and assertive activity that disrupts anti-social and criminal behaviour.

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