Around 597 people sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation died last year – while life expectancy is almost half that of people in stable housing, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
With contacts across the UK, the BIJ documented cases like that of Hamid Farahi, the physicist who lived in a car in Harlow and died alone in emergency accommodation, and Jayne Simpson, a mother of five who struggled with addictions and was filmed by Channel 4 News at a shelter before her death.
The police appeal comes as new figures, given exclusively to this programme, show a significant increase over the last five years in violent crimes against homeless people.
The Office for National Statistics has now revealed that – for the first time – it is also going to start counting the deaths of homeless people in the UK.
One group who are at particular risk of ending up on the streets are those being released from prison. Channel 4 News can reveal that around 1,000 people a month were released from prison homeless or to sleep rough. We talk to Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint, and Christina Marriott, CEO of the Revolving Doors Agency charity.
The city’s mayor is trying a new strategy, getting people back into housing, before tackling their drug problem. Meanwhile outreach workers are trying to create safe areas, called drug consumption rooms, which have already proved a huge success in Europe.
The government said a slight overall drop last Autumn showed its £100m investment to tackle rough sleeping was beginning to work. But charities pointed out that rough sleeping was still 165% higher than in 2010 and called it a ‘damning reflection on our society.’
The news comes as temperatures fall well below freezing in many places.