Rough sleeping and Home Office removals

Tuesday, 23 August 2016 - 9:28am

How is updated guidance affecting European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who sleep rough?

In May 2016 the Home Office issued updated guidance about powers available to issue administrative removals to EEA nationals.

This gave enforcement agencies the right to serve administrative removals to any EEA national who is rough sleeping, regardless of whether they are otherwise exercising treaty rights or even have permanent residency.

‘Rough sleeping is considered to be an abuse of free movement rights, therefore EEA nationals or their family members encountered sleeping rough may be subject to administrative removal under regulation 19(3)(c).’

The guidance goes on to state that:

‘You may consider the administrative removal of EEA nationals or their family members who are sleeping rough, even if they:  have been in the UK for less than 3 months are otherwise exercising Treaty Rights 

In more serious cases of abuse it can apply to a person who has a permanent right of residence.’

Administrative removals are not a new power, but the inclusion of rough sleeping alone as grounds for removal is a new measure. This means people who are in employment or who are otherwise exercising treaty rights can now be served papers.

A number of considerations should still be made by enforcement agencies using the new powers:

  1. Removals should happen on a case by case basis: ‘it is important to investigate each case fully on its own merit’ [p.15]
  2. Proportionately: where rough sleeping is a factor, guidance states enforcement agencies ‘must take into account personal circumstances when you consider whether a decision under regulation 19(3)(c) is proportionate. This includes regard to the relevant person’s:
  • age
  • state of health
  • family ties to the UK
  • length of residence in the UK
  • social and cultural integration
  • economic situation’ [p.20]

This means that consideration should be given to the employment status, support needs and housing situation of people who are sleeping rough.

Over the past few months there have been a number of concerns raised by Homeless Link members about how the guidance has been followed and the impact it is having on vulnerable rough sleepers. This includes feedback that clients’ documents are being automatically confiscated when papers are being served, contrary to the guidance.

Our members have also expressed concern about the low level of communication between local enforcement agencies and homelessness providers who are trying to support some of the individuals affected.

To help us understand how the guidance is being implemented we would welcome your feedback about:

  • If the guidance is being used in your area, and if so any feedback on the process
  • Communication between local enforcement agencies and local homelessness agencies
  • Any practice which goes counter to the guidance (e.g. confiscation of documents).

Please contact Tasmin Maitland with your feedback. This will help us to evidence and understand how the guidance is being implemented and what impact it is having on people sleeping rough. It will also inform our ongoing dialogue with officials in Government and local authorities about this issue.