Security review after rough sleepers found inside Ilford pool building

A review into security at a disused swimming pool broken into by rough sleepers has been launched, as the true picture of homelessness in Redbridge is revealed.

Two men fled from the former Ilford Baths in High Road, Ilford, on Monday of last week, after a gas leak inside the building forced nearby workers to be evacuated.

It was at least the third time rough sleepers have been found to be staying there by Redbridge Council since the building closed in September 2008.

And bosses who work every day with the borough’s homeless have said official figures stating there are only 17 rough sleepers in Redbridge is just the “tip of the iceberg”.

Rita Chadha, director of the Refugee and Migrant Forum East London, said she has been told of “occasional” use of the disused swimming pool building by homeless people.

She added: “Ilford does have a big problem with rough sleepers.

“In some cases, people work casually here and there and live with friends and family. When the money runs out, they’re forced on to the streets which is why it comes and goes.”

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Meanwhile Sonia Lynch, manager of The Welcome Centre, which provides support for homeless people, said: “Our clients can be quite cagey about where they’re sleeping, particularly if they’re not supposed to be there.”

Redbridge Council has told the Recorder the two males who left the building after last week’s gas leak was reported were gone before they could be spoken to by Vision Redbridge staff.

He added: “As with any building, particularly vigilant trespassers will work hard to vandalise or break into properties.

“Security at the site is being reviewed and any extra measures will be decided in due course.

“Regular inspections continue and the site has been secured. The gas supply has been shut off.”