St Mungo’s finds one of its 18 outreach teams worked with government enforcement patrols
The chief executive of the homeless charity St Mungo’s has apologised for sharing information about migrant rough sleepers with the Home Office.
The Guardian previously revealed that St Mungo’s worked with Home Office patrols when they went out on the streets in search of rough sleepers deemed to be in the UK illegally to arrest and deport.
At the time St Mungo’s denied that it passed on either the locations where rough sleepers bedded down or personal information about them to Home Office enforcement teams without their consent. Some of the rough sleepers who were identified on immigration enforcement patrols were subsequently forcibly removed from the UK. Some of these removals have now been found to be unlawful and the Home Office is paying compensation.
The charity has now apologised after an internal review found that one of its 18 outreach teams continued to share information with the Home Office between July 2016 and February 2017. Sharing information about rough sleepers was in contravention of St Mungo’s own policy at the time.
A St Mungo’s spokeswoman said: “The fact that one team had not changed its approach also meant that when we explained our approach externally at this time, it did not completely reflect what every team was doing or the change in approach that outreach managers had adopted from July 2016.”
Howard Sinclair, chief executive of St Mungo’s, said: “There are important lessons for us from the review. We could have done more to explain the change in approach to internal teams and should have been quicker to put the change in approach into formal policies and procedures. The executive team takes full responsibility for this and is sorry it happened.”
“Our policy now is clear – we don’t share information with the Home Office without the client’s full and informed consent unless we are legally obliged to do so.” He added that currently help for migrant rough sleepers to get off the streets was “far from adequate”.
The Public Interest Law Centre (PILC), which successfully challenged the Home Office in the high court about its policy to deport migrant rough sleepers and has raised concerns about St Mungo’s role in these enforcement patrols, welcomed the apology on Tuesday.
“This apology is long overdue. The findings of St Mungo’s internal review have vindicated the work of migrants and homeless rights campaigners who have spent years trying to hold the charity to account for collaborating with immigration enforcement in the detention and deportation of homeless people,” a PILC spokesman said.
“St Mungo’s has admitted misleading the press, campaigners and, most importantly, rough sleepers about the way they worked with the Home Office. The damage done in terms of trust may well be irreparable,” he said.