A London council has refused co-operation with Home Office enforcement teams over sharing the personal data of rough sleepers.
Haringey council confirms it will not comply with the “hostile environment” and expects every organisation delivering services on its behalf to “share this ethos”.
Estimates suggest more than 65% of people rough sleeping in Haringey are not British Citizens – with limited eligibility to access benefits, housing, and healthcare.
“But they are all Haringey residents and a welcome part of our diverse borough,” said Cllr Emine Ibrahim, cabinet member for housing and estate renewal.
The borough has a rough sleeping taskforce operating as a partnership between the council, Homes for Haringey, All People All Places, Thames Reach, and St Mungo’s.
Thames Reach delivers the borough’s street outreach team.
The council says the outreach is not permitted or encouraged to work with Home Office immigration enforcement teams.
“We know that working with these teams detrimentally affects our relationships with some of the most vulnerable people on our streets – our homelessness services will never pass on people’s personal data to the Home Office without their explicit consent,” said Cllr Ibrahim.
“We believe this is a contravention of their right to privacy and has little effect on their exit from street homelessness, which is the sole reason for our work with them.”
The council has provision to help homeless non-UK citizens to return to their home countries – with the explicit permission of the individual and a support package in place.
Cllr Ibrahim said the policy of non-compliance extended to all staff and external organisations delivering services on the council’s behalf.
“Any organisation we continue to work with will be expected to share our position of non-cooperation and non-complicity with the hostile environment – we expect these principles both within the borders of our borough and outside,” she said.