Branch Secretary :

Blow to Govt 'hostile environment' for EU citizens policy

Home Office policy of deporting homeless EU citizens is illegal, High Court rules


The High Court has ordered the Government to stop deporting homeless EU citizens under a controversial policy that has been ruled unlawful.  The policy was introduced while Theresa May was home secretary.


Our branch supported the legal challenge and the questioning of the role of homelessness agencies where our members work in cooperating with the policy.


Mrs Justice Lang said measures introduced last year were discriminatory and violated European law, following a challenge by two Polish men and a Latvian.


Unite LE1111 supporting protest at High Court


The three men were all facing removal because they were found by police and immigration officers sleeping rough.


Specifcally, she said homelessness alone did not meet the legal requirements for deportation, even if accompanied by offences including begging, drinking and nuisance. “The policy discriminated unlawfully against EEA nationals and rough sleepers.”


The Home Office will not be appealing.




Matthew Downie, policy director at Crisis “It has been shocking to witness how some of the most vulnerable members of our society have been treated, in many cases taking them away from the help they were getting to resolve their homelessness,”


He explained “Our own clients have been severely affected by these detentions, sometimes with tragic consequences. This is no way to treat people. This policy has been brutal and indiscriminate, but with this ruling, it must come to an end immediately.”


The Public Interest Law Unit, one of the groups that brought the challenge, welcomed the judgment: “We are delighted that the court has been willing to protect the rights of a vulnerable group of workers who have been stigmatised both by the authorities and by sections of the media.


“Experience shows that if we stand by and allow a marginalised group to be victimised others can expect the same treatment later. Homelessness cannot humanely be dealt with by detaining or forcibly removing homeless people. This practice has been found unlawful and must immediately cease.”


The Government has argued “Rough sleepers could damage the reputation of central London areas as a tourist destination, they had an adverse impact on the amenities of residents and other visitors, and public authorities incurred costs in managing the problems which they caused.”  No mention of addressing the problems leading to the rise in rough sleeping in recent years.


The Home Office says it will be considering its position, branch members hope that senior management teams of homelessness agencies will critically examine their role.


Paul Kershaw 14 December 2017



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