FENLANDER: Crackdown on street drinking and rough sleeping among migrants

TOUGH action is being taken against jobless migrants who refuse to cooperate with efforts to help them find work.

Fenland District Council is working closely with the police and the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in a new initiative aimed at reducing the amount of street drinking and rough sleeping, particularly in Wisbech.

It is targeted at those who are ineligible for housing or other benefits and showing no willingness to actively seek employment.

The joint action has already resulted in nine people having to return to their home countries.

Councillor Kit Owen, FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for housing and homelessness, said: “We are not talking about illegal immigrants here. This is about people who are eligible to be here but who don’t qualify for housing or other benefits and are not in work or seeking it.

“In some cases, that results in them sleeping rough and drinking in the streets, which inevitably has a negative impact on the town and increases tensions within the whole community.

“We want to be fair to everyone. We are doing all we can to help those who find themselves in this situation find work and we offer help and support through the night shelter and engagement with our outreach worker and housing options team.

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“But some people don’t want to cooperate with us at all. Those are the ones we need to take firm action on and we are doing that.”

Insp Robin Sissons, Fenland’s operations inspector, said: “We know that street drinking and rough sleeping and associated anti-social behaviour is a problem for the community and we are working hard together to have an impact on that.

“Also, the problem tends to increase when the seasonal agricultural work dries up. So it is important for us to have measures in place to deal with that when and if it does arise later in the year.”

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