New police guidelines to be introduced following claims officers took sleeping bags from rough sleepers in Ilford

A homeless man sleeping rough on a bench in Ilford

A homeless man sleeping rough on a bench in Ilford - Credit: Archant

New guidelines are to be introduced for police operations dealing with vulnerable people, just weeks after rough sleepers claimed their sleeping bags had been taken away by officers.

About 40 people from the voluntary sector, Redbridge Council and the police met on Monday to discuss ways of improving how they work together.

The meeting was called after an Ilford Recorder article reported claims by homeless people that their sleeping bags had been taken by police during an operation, something they have denied.

A new guideline stipulating that relevant charity representatives should attend police operations was one of the recommendations.

Liz Pearce, of Redbridge Council of Voluntary Services (CVS) where the meeting was held, said: “There were concerns among voluntary organisations that the operation was carried out without their involvement and input from the organisations which know the homeless community best.”

Representatives from the Salvation Army, Welcome Centre and Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London all took part in the meeting.

“We went through what we have learnt with this operation and then looked at what could have been done to make it better,” Ms Pearce said. “It was stated by the police and the council that it was not planned in the right way.

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“I do believe that this was a one-off and we have had good relations with them in the past. I think this was a blip.”

New measures to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again include the charities giving training to police and the council so they know what the voluntary sector can contribute.

Ms Pearce added: “The voluntary sector has lots to offer, but the police and council don’t know what resources are available which would help them do their jobs.”

In future, the police and council will also have a designated person to deal with charities, so that if they need to highlight an issue, they know who to speak to.