Redbridge Council to ‘learn lessons’ as nine died homeless last year – but none were investigated

It has been revealed that Redbridge Council has not investigated the deaths of any rough sleepers fo

It has been revealed that Redbridge Council has not investigated the deaths of any rough sleepers for the past year. - Credit: Aaron Walawalkar

Redbridge Council has not investigated the deaths of any rough sleepers in the past year, it can be revealed.

But the council’s Safeguarding Adult Board (SAB) has confirmed it will discuss at its next meeting what it can learn from the tragic deaths.

An investigation by The Recorder found that at least nine homeless people died in the borough since October last year.

Eight of them died on the street, one in a hostel for former rough sleepers.

In August, the government told SABs, which are run by local councils, to review the deaths of all rough sleepers in their areas.

Local SABs carry out a review when someone dies or is seriously harmed as a result of abuse or neglect and where authorities could have done more to help.

But homeless deaths are rarely ever the subject of review.

A council spokeswoman told the Recorder on Monday, October 16 that, as of yet, none of the nine homeless people known to have died last year have been investigated by the SAB.

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When asked on Tuesday, October 23 to comment on the reasons for this, and whether reviews would be conducted going forward, the council said it would make an announcement after a meeting with external partners yesterday afternoon.

Following this meeting John Goldup, independent chairman of Redbridge’s SAB, said: “There are specific statutory criteria for the commissioning of a Safeguarding Adults Review, and it is not yet clear whether these sad cases met those criteria.

“I very much welcome the Recorder’s work in highlighting this issue.

“Regardless of whether formal reviews are needed or not, the next meeting of the Safeguarding Adults Board will consider how we can make sure we identify and learn the lessons from these tragic deaths and what might be done to reduce the risk of such deaths in the future.”

Of the nine known to have died in Redbridge, one is currently under investigation by the coroner’s court.

While inquests into the deaths of two others are set to take place in November this year and February next year.

At least 449 homeless people have died in the past year, a campaign by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found.

As a result, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it would publish data on homeless deaths later this year.

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes has said: “To honour the memories of all those who’ve lost their lives to poverty and homelessness not just in this year, but in all preceding years, we must act now to bring about a positive change.

“We must insist that these deaths are officially investigated and recorded.

“The Safeguarding Adult Review (SAR) system, which is currently used to investigate the deaths of vulnerable adults, should be extended to include cases where a person has died whilst homeless and living on the streets.

“This will allow us to have a more accurate picture of the number of people who die on our streets, and will give the authorities, councils and homelessness services valuable information that could help them prevent the deaths of rough sleepers in the future.”