18 December 2017

Council policy on abandoned belongings

The council supports rough sleepers and works closely with partners across the city to look after people vulnerable on our streets.

Sometimes people living rough abandon belongings they no longer need, which can include sleeping bags and clothes. Belongings are only removed if no owner is present on two occasions and the items appear abandoned - unless there is a health and safety issue or the owner tells us they do not want them.

Bylaws ban the pitching of tents in the city, except in approved campsites. Due to the bylaws, there are cases when people are asked to stop camping in the city. The council and our partner agencies always give notice if we ever need to move on people staying in tents.

The notice period depends on where the encampment is pitched and any disruption being caused, but would likely be a minimum of 12 hours and usually longer. The notice explains that the items need to be removed by the owner. If they are not removed and then are later requested back, then a storage charge of £25 will be payable. However, this charge is waived if the items are later claimed by someone who needs their belongings and was unable to pay due to living rough.

The fee exists to deter people using the service as a storage facility. Lockers are available at day centres to store belongings free of charge. All rough sleepers are advised by outreach workers to take their belongings with them during the day to ensure they are not damaged on the streets while they are away.

We always try to engage with anyone camping and we offer advice on alternative places to stay. We will always give notice of any removal as we do not want to take anyone’s possessions. If the council does have to remove someone’s belongings, the items are stored for 28 days. A note is left saying where the items were taken and giving information on how they can be claimed.

Sometimes the items removed from streets and parks contain hazardous materials which are not safe to leave around members of the public, especially where children play. These items usually have to be destroyed and cannot be stored.

Living rough and prolonged stays in tents in the city are not good for people’s health and can be unsafe, especially at this time of year, and the council works hard to look after people in need on the streets. We have a multi-agency approach to helping rough sleepers and people living in tents. Working with our partners including local charities we look at what support individuals need.

If you believe anyone who has had their property taken in breach of this policy, please send us the details so we can investigate. Our customer feedback team can look into what’s happened and support you if you make a formal complaint. For details, go to www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/complaints 

Anyone concerned about a rough sleeper should contact www.streetlink.org.uk. The Streetlink team share information with outreach workers and the details are used to help connect the person to local services and support.