Study finds rise in abuse towards rough sleepers

Research has found that rough sleepers are victim to excessive levels of abuse by the public, including theft, sexual assault and physical violence.

Crisis, the homelessness charity, has revealed that people sleeping on the street are almost 17 times more likely to have been victims of violence and 15 times more likely to have suffered verbal abuse in the past year compared to the general public.

Drawing on a survey of 458 recent or current rough sleepers in England and Wales, 66 per cent of respondents reported that life on the street is getting worse, with nearly eight in 10 suffering some sort of violence, abuse or anti-social behaviour.

Broken down into specifics: 48 per cent have been intimidated or threatened with violence whilst homeless; 59 per cent have had been verbally abused or harassed; 35 per cent have been deliberately hit or kicked or experienced some other form of violence; 34 per cent have had things thrown at them; nine per cent have been urinated on whilst homeless; and seven per cent have been the victim of a sexual assault.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “As our research shows, rough sleepers are far more likely to be victims of crime, including violent assault, abuse and intimidation, compared to the general public. This is a horrifying state of affairs and shows why we need to prevent people ending up in this situation in the first place.

“The Homelessness Reduction Bill currently making its way through parliament aims to make sure people facing homelessness can get support when they need it, and we urge the public to help by calling on their MP to back this crucial bill.”