Shutters and CCTV planned in response to rough sleeping in Wellington
Shutters and CCTV are planned in Wellington where there are a “comparatively high number of rough sleepers”, its town council was told.
Inspector Gary Wade told councillors some of the town’s homeless people could be victims of modern slavery, while others came because of its train station or Polish community.
Shutters are due to be installed in the doorway at the town’s former Stead and Simpson premises, which he called a “key area”, to deter rough sleepers from using it.
Alan Olver, founder of homeless accommodation charity Maninplace, said a street-level headcount the previous night had found three rough sleepers in Wellington but none in Oakengates, Madeley or Telford town centre.
Insp Wade told Wellington Town Council: “I’ve been working with Alan since I came here five years ago and it is, I believe, the worst I’ve ever known.
“But I will say these people aren’t all criminals. They are often very vulnerable people.”
He said the Stead and Simpson shop “which just seems to sit there empty” had become a “key area”.
Insp Wade said: “The local authority have agreed to fund shutters to go there.
“They should be in place within the next week, I’m told, which is a lot quicker than the normal timescale.”
He said that would “displace the problem”, not solve it, and a CCTV system is also planned.
“That should be in place, I’m told, within the next two to three months,” he said.
“That will be monitored Thursday to Sunday, but also at other times, if we have the need in a particular area.”
Former councillor Cindy Mason-Morris, attending her last meeting as mayor, asked: “Is there a disproportionate number of rough sleepers in Wellington, compared to other areas?”
Mr Olver said: “We have a member of staff who counts the Wellington ones. There were three last night, none in Oakengates, none in Telford and none in Madeley. So yes, it’s a high number.”
Councillor John Alvey asked what was bringing them to Wellington.
Insp Wade said: “It might have been modern slavery. They may come and work in the car washes, and they may fall out with their bosses so they’ve got nowhere to go.”
But he added that the accessibility of Wellington might be another attraction for homeless people.
He said: “They travel down the railway line. They don’t pay after a certain time of the night, because there isn’t enough monitoring, and look for places with higher footfall.”
Mr Olver said: “It might well be, for the Polish people, that their community is here.”
Insp Wade said there are 13 people sleeping regularly on the streets, five of whom are Polish nationals.
Cllr Anthony Lowe, who replaces Ms Mason-Morris as mayor, said Mr Olver’s and Insp Wade’s presentation persuaded him to include Maninplace and The Kip Project – a Salvation Army-backed homelessness charity – among his chosen charities for his term of office.