County line gang members are operating from B&B rooms in the district where Folkestone & Hythe District Council have housed vulnerable homeless people during the covid-19 crisis. A number of well placed senior sources have told the Shepwayvox Team there is little they can do. It’s a Police matter. (The Police have been informed we are reliably informed).
Rough sleepers, the homeless and the poor are often used as dealers/runners by County line gangs. This has been reported on by Kentlive and is made clear in the Home Office document – Criminal Exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: County Lines guidance, which makes it clear there are there are recorded cases of those who have homelessness or insecure accommodation status being exploited.
Over the weekend of the 27th March 2020 all Councils were given 48 hours to find emergency accommodation for all rough sleepers in England following an unprecedented, but unfunded, request from the government that all homeless people should be housed by Sunday.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council complied and began placing the homeless in B&B’s. In the rush it has come to light the Council have placed the homeless in B&B’s where County Line gang members are operating from.
In a rush to comply with advice handed down by MHCLG the Council elected to seek no help, assistance or advice from people like Porchlight, Rainbow Centre, Salavation Army, Action For Homeless etc as to who was really homeless or not, so a free for all occurred and people were housed on a first come first serve basis.
A number of senior council sources have told the Shepwayvox Team, the Council now know that county line gang members are in B&Bs where they have placed vulnerable homeless people. This has also been confirmed by a variety of well placed sources who work closely with the homeless as well as a number of B&B owners we have spoken to.
Meanwhile others remain homeless and are sleeping out on the East Cliff (Folkestone). There are five people sleeping up on the East Cliff as the video below shows; one being only 18 years old as we understand according to postings on social media.
On the 26th March, Luke Hall MP, Minister for Local Government & Homelessness issued the following a letter to all Council leaders which clearly states councils are to:
“stop homeless people from congregating in facilities such as day centres and street encampments where there is a higher risk of transmission”
Central government also confirmed it would refund any cost to local councils to house the homeless, as the letter confirms:
Councils will be reimbursed for the cost of providing accommodation and services to rough sleepers, and those at risk of rough sleeping, who are suffering from or at risk of coronavirus.
But one month into lockdown the council are failing in their obligation to comply and house the homeless video evidence on social media and above demonstrates.
Senior council sources confirmed to us off the record, the government money has run out, and they are finding it difficult to find spaces for the homeless as we understand. However, on Feb 3rd 2020 the Council announced they and Dover District Council had secured funding totalling over £469,000 through the government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative to continue to complement existing services to homeless rough sleepers within the districts.
Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr David Godfrey (pictured) has privately admitted the council has seen a “large increase” of people presenting as homeless and they are “having difficulty ” housing them during the covid-19 crisis.
This in part can be explained by sofa surfers being turfed out of where they might have laid their head as friends might be frightened they have covid-19.
At a time when we are all vulnerable to covid-19, housing the homeless in B&Bs where County line gang members are running operations from makes them doubly vulnerable. We hope the Police & the Council will deal with this matter swiftly.
At the time of publication the Council have been asked for comment.
The Shepwayvox Team
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