Surge in rough sleeping on London's Night Tube and night buses

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A surge in rough sleeping on London’s night Tubes and buses has prompted City Hall to send in a task force to tackle the problem. 

Staff ride the Underground and buses throughout the night to locate rough sleepers and offer them accommodation instead. 

The move comes after statistics revealed a 121 per cent increase in the number of people sleeping on night buses between 2012/13 and 2015/16.

Figures for the Night Tube, which launched two years ago, are not available but drivers have reported a significant number of rough sleepers on board. 

Support staff who carried out eight pilot shifts on the Tubes and buses recorded 164 homeless people using public transport as a place to sleep. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Over the last year, we’ve seen the rise in rough sleeping halted for the first time in nearly a decade – but even one person ending up in this position is too many, and I am determined to make sure homeless people get the support they need.

“My new night-time transport team will work across our buses and Tubes to help people before they end up sleeping rough on the streets. I’ll continue to work closely with councils, homeless organisations, and Government to make sure there is a way off the street for every rough sleeper in London.”

The new night-time transport workers will work as part of the Mayor’s London Street Rescue outreach team and focus on transport routes which homeless people are known to use regularly, or that bus and Tube drivers have referred them to. 

The team will help people find accommodation, provide access to support services and try and put people in touch with their family and friends to prevent them from ending up sleeping on the streets longer term.

Members of the public can also help by using the online Streetlink website to say where they have seen someone who might need help. 

A new web data base to cross-check missing people and rough sleepers, two projects to help homeless women and a new support initiative to help people into work were also launched today by the mayor as part of his £1 million Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund. 

Jeremy Swain, Chief Executive Thames Reach & member of Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Taskforce said homeless people forced to travel the buses and Tube system at night deserve the same help and support as those living rough in shop doorways.

There are around 8000 homeless people sleeping rough on London’s streets. Outreach workers will be funded initially by a £300,000 investment from City Hall.


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