Agenda item

Rough Sleeping and Street Drinking


Mr. Ian Harrison, Corporate Director, gave a presentation to the Panel on rough sleeping and street drinking in the Borough and particularly the recent issues in Aldershot town centre.


It was noted that, historically, street drinking had caused small scale impacts throughout the Borough but mainly in the parks in Aldershot. However, in 2015, large numbers of rough sleepers and street drinkers had begun to gather in the High Street Car Park, Aldershot.  The group, of 10 - 30 individuals, were very visible and high levels of concern and complaints had been received from residents, businesses and shoppers. The Council had organised a Hub Event in September 2015 in partnership with local organisations to help address the issues. Six rough sleepers engaged in the Hub Event were housed in temporary accommodation; unfortunately, all but one broke the terms of their tenancy and had returned to sleeping rough.


Subsequently, in October 2015, the Council had taken specific action to take back possession of the High Street Car Park. Injunctions had been obtained against seven individuals who had consistently been causing anti-social behaviour (ASB). All seven had been issued with terms of undertaking as part of their injunctions. By March 2016, rough sleeping and street drinking had become more visible in the town centre, particularly in Union Street.  The Council had created a small team, led by Mr. Harrison, to co-ordinate an approach to address the issues. A number of initiatives had been put in place, from boarding up empty shop units to shop owners/managers recording incidents of ASB.  Community Patrol Officers (CPOs) had assisted by patrolling the town centre and clearing rubbish, as required.  Two additional mobile CCTV cameras were also utilised as a prevention measure. The measures taken to clear up Union Street had proved effective, although some individuals had been displaced to other areas of the town and the Council had continued to work with property owners, agencies and out-reach workers to further address the issues.


It was noted that, in August 2016, two of the individuals had been brought back before the courts for persistent breaches and had received custodial sentences of three months and one month. The individual who had received the three month custodial sentence was currently engaged and living in a new secured tenancy. However, the individual who had been sentenced to one month in prison was currently back on the street.


In June 2016, the Cabinet had agreed to convert the former Army Barrack and Air Training Cadets hut at Ordnance Road, Aldershot into a “wet hostel” for homeless people. The hostel would be run by specialists from the Society of St. James (SSJ) and would consist of nine bed spaces and provide support for long term resolution of drug, alcohol and mental health problems for an initial three year period. It was hoped that the facility would open in December 2016. The Council was also working with the Vine Centre to provide severe weather accommodation between November 2016 and March 2017 for individuals sleeping out over the winter months.


Mr. Harrison advised that street drinking and rough sleeping continued to be a significant issue locally and on a national scale. The Council’s response locally had combined a supportive approach and a resolve to take firm action as required. Working in a co-ordinated and cohesive fashion with partners was critical to a long-term solution.


The Panel discussed the issues raised and supported the provision of the “wet hostel” as a positive step towards addressing long term issues. It was felt that rough sleeping and street drinking had become a way of life for some involved and a number of individuals were evidently not homeless. Support given to the individuals from the general public was helping to enable some to remain on the street; this was being addressed in public literature. It was discussed that reports of individuals receiving large sums per day begging on the streets had been helping to sustain this lifestyle.


In response to a query, it was advised that the main cost to the Council had been the physical costs, such as the installation of security gates on Union Street and the £20,000 contribution towards the construction of the “wet hostel”. The Council had prioritised the problem as a result of the large number of complaints received relating to the issue, and it was noted that the cost of officer time was relatively low and that no new officers had been appointed to tackle the issue.


The Panel were advised of a couple of incidents in Farnborough, in particular a male and female sleeping rough in Queen Elizabeth Park. The male was reported as being an ex-service man suffering from the misuse of drugs and alcohol. This had raised questions about the available support and a request was made for more information on the current working arrangements and activities at Mike Jackson House.


            The Panel NOTED the update.



Action to be Taken



By Whom




More information be provided on the working arrangements and activities of Mike Jackson House, Aldershot.



Mr. Ian Harrison, Corporate Director


December 2016