Every night people bed down to sleep along Edgware Road, taking advantage of the shelter provided by over-hanging roofs and doorways. Some make use of a tent, many will have mattresses and sleeping bags. Although it detracts from the area, sleeping on the pavement is not an illegal activity so there is no means for public authorities to prevent it from happening.
During the day, they will store bedding material in phone boxes, fire escapes, doorways of empty shops, subways, and residents’ household bin containers, coming back every night to retrieve it. They will also take advantage of mattresses discarded by residents and left for Veolia to take away.
The Marble Arch BID Street Team record all of this behaviour, taking photographs where appropriate and recording the locations. We use this evidence in our daily reports to the City Council who now carry out regular operations with the Police to remove bedding material. They will also carry out identification checks, interview rough sleepers, issue warnings and take other enforcement action when appropriate.
Along Edgware Road, the vast majority of people sleeping on the streets are not UK nationals that are genuinely homeless, but foreign nationals, the majority of whom are here for a short period of time to make money from begging, selling flowers and similar activities to take back home. Many of these practices are illegal. The Police have designated the area a Community Protection Zone to help them more effectively tackle the wide range of persistent anti-social behaviour that occurs along Edgware Road.
When our Street Team come across genuinely homeless people, they report it via Street Link. We liaise with the City Council’s dedicated Neighbourhood Coordinator for the BID area to make sure that the Council’s outreach services make contact and offer housing and support services.
If you are concerned about rough sleepers, please refer them to Streetlink, donate to a suitable charity such as the West London Mission, who provide support services from their premises on Seymour Place, or donate via Westminster City Council’s Hidden Network campaign.