Today Revolving Doors Agency publishes a new peer research study on repeat victimisation among people who moved from the streets into supported accommodation in London. The research was supported by Trust for London.
The report is timely as violent attacks on rough sleepers are increasingly covered by the media, and the Law Commission is being asked to expand the definition of “protected categories” so that the police systematically record crime committed against people who are sleeping rough. Yet, little is known to date about people’s experiences of crime and victimisation once they move in supported housing. This report addresses this gap and unravels barriers and enablers for people who moved from the streets into supported accommodation to report crime and access support.
The report makes for difficult reading. We found people who moved from the streets into supported accommodation continue to be targeted because of their experiences with mental ill-health, substance abuse or simply appearing ‘vulnerable’ or ‘homeless’. Many felt ashamed, distressed and isolated in the aftermath of the crime. Many simply did not report crimes committed against them or seek support as victims because they feared they would be labelled as ‘homeless’, ‘addicts’, or ‘ex-offenders’ and dismissed by the criminal justice agencies, including services for victims. While all the data collection took place in London, the problems highlighted in this report are endemic. People with histories of homelessness, mental ill-health, substance abuse and offending are repeatedly victims of serious and repeated crime.
We need to urgently take action, as each day we waste, access to fair justice is delayed. The problems identified in this research are complex, and there is no one simple solution, nor can one particular agency alone resolve these issues. The report makes recommendations to improve criminal justice and homelessness services both at the operational and strategic level – we will not repeat them here. However, that said, participants were clear about the need for a peer-support approach, and we invite Victims’ Commissioners and PCCs to consider how they implement this in their local areas.