Homelessness hate crime in Northampton sees people on streets get beaten and abused, says charity

Hate crime against homelessness is a widespread problem, says the CEO of the Northampton Hope Centre.
Hate crime against homelessness is a widespread problem, says the CEO of the Northampton Hope Centre.

Something must be done to stop "hate crimes" against rough sleepers in Northampton, a homelessness charity has said.

The CEO of Northampton's Hope Centre, Robin Burgess, says people living on the streets can be assaulted, face verbal abuse and even be urinated on on a daily basis.

He points to an incident last week when "Bobby", a man who has been living on Northampton's streets for five years, was punched and kicked by a gang of men on a night out in the town centre.

Robin said: "Bobby stumbled into the Hope Centre late one night at the end of June. He was breathing heavily and was badly injured.

"He told us he had been sleeping in the town centre when a group of men assaulted him all at once. There was no talking involved. They just started beating him. They just wanted to hurt him."

Bobby had to be taken to A&E, but he refused to take the incident to the police because, Robin says, he felt he would not be supported.

Robin said: "If someone is found sleeping rough, there are people out there who think it's alright to do something horrible to them. They can be kicked, punched, urinated on, verbally abused and even have things thrown at them. This is a hate crime against homeless people.

"It won't just physically injure them but also damage their mental health. These incidents make rough sleepers feel even less about themselves. They end up just accepted the abuse.

"Earlier this week, I was on a train when some lads got on at Northampton. One of them bragged about how he had thrown a brick at a homeless man living in a tent the night before.

"As long as people can reduce rough sleepers to a joke, and not even think of them as human beings, then it opens the way for violence."

Robin's comments come after a scrutiny committee called on Northampton Borough Council's cabinet to develop a five-year Homelessness Strategy for the town.

It also recommends producing personalised development plans for each on Northampton's rough sleepers to help them move into permanent housing.

The Northampton Hope Centre is a homelessness support charity that offers accomodation and medical services to disadvantaged people.