Southern Rail staff filmed throwing dirty water over homeless man
Three employees suspended and under investigation as video of incident goes viral
Three railway staff have been suspended after a video emerged showing them pouring a bucket of dirty water on a homeless man in an apparent attempt to make him move away from a station.
The footage, posted on Facebook and other social media platforms, shows two employees pouring what seems to be mop water on the man as he lies on the ground outside Sutton station, in south London.
According to the BBC, the third staff member under investigation was identified through CCTV, and officers from the British Transport Police (BTP) are “investigating the incident as common assault”. Southern Rail has also launched an inquiry.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, said rough sleepers “face incredible dangers every day” including abuse and extreme weather.
“We understand that service providers have a duty to maintain their premises and ensure their customers can use them safely but to face such treatment – especially at the hands of staff members of what should be a trusted public service – is disgraceful,” Sparkes continued.
Research by Crisis shows that a fifth of homeless people have experienced “wetting down” – where an area is covered in water to force them to move on.
The woman who filmed the incident at Sutton station on Sunday told the London Evening Standard: “I don’t understand why they would do that, I can’t get that mindset. The amount of water they threw on him would have meant his clothes weren’t dry by the evening and it was 1C last night.”
A BTP spokesperson told local newspaper the Sutton & Croydon Guardian that investigators are looking into reports of a man who “was being verbally abusive and aggressive to people at the station”. It is not clear whether it was the man who had water poured over him.
One witness told the paper that the man in the video and another person had verbally harassed her and her four-year-old son. She said: “The guy wasn’t homeless, he was just sitting there enjoying the sun. That was all that they were, they weren’t nice people.”
However, Andy Fulker, director of Sutton Night Watch, says the man in question is in regular contact with the local homeless charity. “I’ve been working with the homeless for three years and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Fulker said of the viral video.
The number of rough sleepers across England has risen by 165% since 2010.