There has been a fall in the number of rough sleepers in London for the first time in around 10 years following a policy of deporting Romanian and Polish migrants with no means of supporting themselves in the UK.
Despite the success of the scheme, it could soon be halted because of a judicial review and a campaign by activists and charities, The Sunday Timesreports.
About 1,000 have rough sleepers have been sent home in the past 12 months, with about 200 leaving voluntarily and the rest removed by Home Office immigration enforcement officers.
However, courts could challenge the Home Office view that rough sleepers who cannot support themselves when they move to the UK can lose their EU right of freedom of movement.
— Liberty (@libertyhq) October 19, 2017
Liberty, the pressure group backing a Labour Party push to potentially frustrate Brexit, is also preparing a complaint to the European Commission.
Between March 2015 and March 2016, the number of people thought to be sleeping on London streets shot up from 3,017 to 8,096.
Between April and June of this year, however, it dropped by 4 per cent, the Combined Homelessness and Information Network (CHAIN) of the London Assembly claims.
A 2015 CHAIN report claimed: “There were a significant number of rough sleepers from non-CEE European countries, mostly those in the European Economic Area, with Italy (134), the Republic of Ireland (132) and Portugal (115) continuing to be the most heavily represented.
“393 (5 per cent) people seen rough sleeping in the year were from African countries, and 309 (4 per cent) were of Asian nationality.”
The presence of large numbers of mainly Romanian rough sleepers hit the headlines in 2015 when they set up camps near landmarks in the capital, including Marble Arch, washed in public water fountains, and left considerable amounts of litter.
The Home Office tested a scheme that removed 127 European rough sleepers in Westminster in two months and this was extended nationally in the 2016 budget.
The Home Office has refused to state how many it has removed, but sources said it was in the high hundreds.
One official said the tough approach had helped deter several thousand Eastern Europeans, who would otherwise be sleeping rough, coming to Britain.