01:42PM, Saturday 06 January 2018
An ex-police officer and senior councillor has appealed for more cooperation between the police and the Royal Borough to tackle Windsor’s homelessness problem.
Cllr Derek Sharp (Con, Furze Platt) was speaking after comments by council leader Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) about an epidemic of rough sleeping and vagrancy in Windsor’ grabbed national attention.
Cllr Sharp, who spent 14 years with Thames Valley Police (TVP) and is also chairman of the council’s Crime and Disorder Overview and Scrutiny Panel, said more needed to be done to address the needs of the homeless, as well as concerns of ‘residents, business people and visitors’.
He also promised to raise the issue with Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld and TVP’s chief constable Francis Habgood.
But he declined to comment on the way Cllr Dudley has handled the matter.
See below for Cllr Sharp’s statement in full:
Firstly, I acknowledge that there is a growing problem with an increase in the number of people both begging and sleeping rough on the streets of Windsor. Consequently we have to approach this situation in a positive, measured way to try to find solutions. The Royal Borough has been working on the issues of rough sleeping and begging but we clearly need to do more to address the needs of rough sleepers and to address the concerns of our residents, business people and visitors regarding begging in Windsor.
We need to ascertain the reasons why people are living on the streets, and to clearly differentiate between those who are there because they have no-where else to live, possibly with mental health and addiction problems, and those who do have homes but are in Windsor to beg from unsuspecting residents and tourists.
We need a multi-agency approach involving the Royal Borough social services, voluntary organisations and Thames valley Police working together. I believe we need to properly investigate why people are sleeping rough and begging in Windsor, and then with all the necessary information we can act accordingly.
As well as being chair of the RBWM Crime and Disorder Panel I also sit on the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Panel and will ask both the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief constable of Thames Valley Police directly what they can do to assist in joint working that will enable a situation where these people have no need to be on the streets, and where Thames Valley Police are not put into the position of having to use existing powers to achieve this scenario.
RBWM as a local authority has a duty of care to homeless people who primarily either originate from or have links to this Borough. No persons should have to live on the streets of Windsor or any other location in the Royal Borough but equally our residents and visitors should not be subjected to aggressive begging anywhere in the Borough.
To conclude I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the various voluntary organisations who work tirelessly alongside the Borough officers and the Police service, without which we could not hope to achieve the results needed.
The race to get as many people vaccinated against coronavirus has ramped up in the Royal Borough and Slough amidst an ongoing rise in cases across the country.