HL Deb 13 April 1999 vol 599 c112WA
Lord Patten

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the number of rough sleepers in Victoria Street, London, is increasing or declining. [HL1888]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty)

The most recent figures for numbers sleeping rough on any one night in the Victoria rough sleeping zone (which includes Victoria Street) are as follows:

Date of count Numbers of rough sleepers
February 1997* 48
January 1998* 31
June 1998 58
1 October 1998 56
22 October 1998 68
20 January 1999* 44
23 March 1999* 50
* Figures between December and March are usually lower, reflecting the availability of extra beds in winter shelters across London.

In the last two years the numbers of rough sleepers counted in the Victoria rough sleeping zone have remained fairly static, against a recent trend in central London for numbers to rise. A total of 282 rough sleepers were contacted in Victoria on one or more occasions in the July to September 1998 quarter (including 142 for the first time) against 372 (including 135 for the first time) in the October to December 1998 quarter. A pilot study funded by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions around Victoria Street between January and March 1999 has sought to identify barriers to better provision for rough sleepers and find ways to overcome them. It focused efforts on finding suitable accommodation for rough sleepers, particularly those who have been on the streets for many years. On 23 March 1999 the pilot outreach teams in Victoria were working with 117 rough sleepers; 72 of them were in accommodation, including 26 who had been on the streets for years.