December 7 2013 Latest news:
Amanda Nunn and Suhail Patel
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Police swooped on the homeless, grabbing sleeping bags and food parcels donated by the public, in co-ordinated raids around the borough.
Adam Jaskowiak was one of the men targeted and said he pleaded with police to be able to keep his things but was ignored.
He was sleeping with eight other people finding shelter for the night in the former Ilford Baths in High Road, Ilford.
All of their belongings were bundled into a police car leaving the men, one in his 60s, stunned.
A police chief told the Recorder the operation was carried out to “reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers”.
But Mr Jaskowiak, 34, said: “They were just taking the sleeping bags and chucking out everything. I asked to keep it and the food, but they said ‘no’.
“I just grabbed as many of my things as possible and put them into a bag and ran.”
He was given the sleeping bag by the Salvation Army, Clements Road, Ilford, over the winter months after becoming homeless when his friend died.
John Clifton, 26, corps officer at the Salvation Army, said: “I’m shocked and disgusted. Why would you take the only form of shelter someone has from them?
“We have tried to find out why they were taken and if we can get them back.”
After the raid happened on Thursday, the men went to the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London, High Road, Ilford, for help.
Chief executive Rita Chadha said: “I am appalled because there’s no logic in this – it’s not as though if they take someone’s sleeping bag they will automatically walk into a house.
“It’s not a lifestyle choice and becoming homeless can happen to anyone.”
She also said the action will damage relations between the police and those sleeping on the streets.
Ilford Ch Insp John Fish said: “The public rely on police to reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers, this includes the need for us to assist in the removal of temporary structures, tents, and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations.”
There are still traffic jams for miles on the westbound carriageway of the A406 from South Woodford after a teenager was stabbed to death.