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Streets Kitchen claims new patrols are making ‘hostile environment’ for homeless

BID chief: 'One of them was bitten by a homeless person’s dog the other day – so I think it is more complex than perhaps it appears'

22 February, 2019

Jon Glackin

THE organiser of a celebrated homeless shelter and food handout project says the new security team patrolling Camden Town are creat­ing a “hostile environment”.

Jon Glackin, who set up and runs Streets Kitchen, said the Camden Town Unlimited-funded group was acting like a bunch of “hard boys”.

He said homeless people who regularly slept in Camden Town felt they had been driven out of the borough. The businesses levy should be used to help rather than harass the homeless, he believes.

Mr Glackin said: “We are getting lots of complaints about people getting harassed and moved on – everybody is complaining. It has been weird because I am now seeing people from Camden popping up in Haringey and Islington.”

He added: “They [the team] don’t really have any powers, but often when you are on the street these are not the type of people who want to question authority. They just get up and go. But they are creating a hostile environment. It’s not just the security team, we are also hearing about people’s tents being taken away. We would like to see businesses engage with the homeless in a positive way, rather than an aggressive way. Give them the support. That is the solution.”

Camden Town Unlimited – a business improvement district (BID) – was set up to collect funding from high street businesses and use it to make the area more attractive to shoppers. It has recently employed six security guards to help police drive out drug dealing and bad behaviour from Camden Town.

Chief executive Simon Pitkeathley said he would rather not be spending businesses’ money on a security team, but it was necessary because drug dealing in Camden had got out of control. He said: “They are trying to help homeless people. Sometimes people walk past and film them and wonder what’s going on. One of them was bitten by a homeless person’s dog the other day – so I think it is more complex than perhaps it appears.”

He added: “If someone is setting up camp outside the tube station, or urinating – that’s not helping anyone. The key remit of the team is to be present, and to create a more uncomfortable environment for the drug dealers and anti-social behaviour. They are also gathering intelligence about the homeless. Taking descriptions of new people they see.”

He said Euston Town BID had given funding to homeless charity CW4s and that it was “highly regrettable” that the Camden Town group was having to spend money on security.

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