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Rough Sleeping In Westminster

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 3 September 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 27 July (

WA 152), whether they will give in full "several reasons" that they believe make "the areas around Victoria Street and Westminster Cathedral … popular with rough sleepers, unlike the areas around Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey". [HL3148]

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police tells me that rough sleepers favour the areas around Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Street for the following reasons:

  • Rough sleepers tend to congregate and frequent "traditional" rough sleeping areas, which include Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Street;
  • Traditional areas are served by outreach workers from the various charities and voluntary organisations who provide advice and practical assistance, such as clothing, bedding, medical aid and nightly food runs;
  • The areas around Westminster Cathedral and Victoria Street have a wide variety of shops and food outlets, some of which have extended opening hours;
  • Victoria Street has many shops and doorways with covered entrances. These are a good source of warmth and shelter for those sleeping rough; and
  • Rough sleepers feel that it is a safe and relatively crime-free area.
Rough sleepers do not favour the areas around Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace for the following reasons:
  • These areas are not "traditional" areas for rough sleepers and so do not offer the same level of support from outreach workers; and
  • Both areas are isolated and lonely at night.