Homelessness charity helped deport rough sleepers
St Mungo’s worked with immigration patrols looking for illegal migrants
One of the UK’s leading homelessness charities helped the Home Office target rough sleepers deemed to be in the UK illegally.
St Mungo’s, one of the largest providers of homelessness outreach services in Britain, admitted to The Guardian that it co-operated with Home Office immigration patrols looking to arrest and deport rough sleepers who did not have permission to be in the UK.
The charity said some of its contracts with local authorities specified it should work with immigration, compliance and enforcement (Ice) teams. The Home Office’s approach “has been deemed unlawful in some cases”, says the paper.
In December, the High Court rejected the Home Office’s assertion that some migrants sleeping on the streets were abusing EU free movement rights.
The Home Office has since suspended its use of Ice patrols.
Petra Salva, St Mungo’s director of rough sleeping services, said she understood co-operation between the charity and immigration officers “can be seen as strange and unpopular for some people”, but sought to defend the move because of the “difficult climate we’re operating in”.
The North East London Migrant Action group criticised the decision.
“The role of homelessness charities should be to uphold the rights of vulnerable people,” it said. “St Mungo’s have forfeited the trust of asylum seekers and other migrants who sleep rough by working with the Home Office who have people deported from the UK.”