Deporting EU Rough Sleepers Is Illegal, High Court Rules

December 14, 2017 Updated: December 14, 2017    

The UK government’s policy of deporting rough sleepers from EU countries was ruled illegal by the High Court today.

Mrs Justice Lang said that the policy, which was introduced by the Home Office last year, was “discriminatory” and did not comply with EU laws.

The ruling follows a challenge by campaigners on behalf of three EU citizens, who were threatened with deportation from Britain because they were sleeping rough.

The two Polish men and one Latvian man faced being kicked out of the country when they were found on the street by immigration officers last year, the Independent reported.

Lang said that being homeless was not a justfied reason for less favourable treatment, even if accompanied by begging, drinking or other nuisances.

“There has been a significant increase in rough sleepers of all nationalities,” she said in the judgement.

She added, “The policy discriminated unlawfully against EEA nationals and rough sleepers.”

The policy equated rough sleeping as an “abuse” of EU citizens’ rights of freedom of movement. Campaigners have said that the measure has affected hundreds of people from the European Economic Area sleeping rough in the UK.
 The claimants were represented by lawyers Deighton Pierce Glynn on behalf of the Aire Centre that campaigns for rights under European law.

“The rounding up of EU rough sleepers who have not committed any offences and who then face being detained creates a climate of fear,” the legal firm said, according to Cetusnews.

“The Home Office’s desire to create a ‘hostile environment’ for foreign nationals has been dealt a significant blow by this ruling.”

The Home Office has said that they will not be appealing the judgement.

“We are disappointed by today’s judgment,” a Home Office spokesperson said to the newspaper. “However, we respect the court’s findings and will not be appealing.

“We will consider carefully what steps are necessary to ensure we reflect the judgment in future enforcement.”

According to The Times, homelessness in the UK is rising sharply, despite a government pledge to halve street homelessness by 2027. The paper said that figures from the charity, the Chain database show that there were 8,108 rough sleepers in 2016-17  in London compared with 3,017 in 2007-08.

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