In Brief

Man found dead in back of London bin lorry

Waste companies warn that number of homeless people sleeping in bins is increasing

A police investigation has been launched after a body was found in the back of a bin lorry in London.

The Metropolitan Police said officers were called to reports of a man’s body found in a bin lorry in Camberwell, south London.

Scotland Yard said the death was being treated as unexplained and “inquiries into the circumstances continue”.

A London Ambulance Service spokesperson told local paper Southwark News that emergency services were called at 5:39am on 24 February to reports of an incident on Bethwin Road, Camberwell.

The spokesperson said: “We dispatched an ambulance crew, an advanced paramedic, a medic in a car and an incident response officer to the scene. We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance trauma team in a car. Sadly, a man was pronounced dead at the scene.”

A spokesperson for the waste company Biffa added: “We are working with the relevant authorities as they investigate the matter. We cannot comment any further at this stage.”

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The Guardian reports that Biffa recorded 109 “near misses” or encounters with people sleeping in or near its bins between April and December last year. Veolia, another waste disposal company, has also revealed increasing problems with people sheltering in bins.

At least seven people have died in crushing deaths in the last five years, according to government agency the Health and Safety Executive. Last year, an inquest heard how a 47-year-old man died after suffering crushing injuries to his legs when he was tipped into a bin lorry in Rochester, Kent.

The paper adds that when Biffa drivers report incidents of homeless people sleeping inside bins, the company alerts StreetLink, a national organisation that places rough sleepers into overnight accomodations and puts them in contact with support services.

Homelessness charities and waste industry officials are calling for action to prevent “terrible fatalities”, after the rise in such incidents.

Petra Salva, head of rough sleeping at the homelessness charity St Mungo’s, said: “Terrible fatalities occur when people seek refuge in bins. We think it’s unacceptable that people are forced to sleep rough in the first place but almost unthinkable that people are so desperate that they will seek refuge in bin containers.

“And some of the most vulnerable people in our society find themselves in this situation, facing not just homelessness but also mental and physical health issues, drug or alcohol problems, maybe long histories of neglect and abuse.”

Michael Topham, Biffa’s chief executive, told The Guardian that the issue of people sheltering in bins was as pressing as it had been five years ago and said his company was committed to improving industry practices to avoid “tragic” incidents.

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