£109,000 pot to fly homeless immigrants home

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MORE than £100,000 is being ploughed into a scheme which helps homeless, out of work immigrants go back home.

The scheme, run by Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI), funds plane and bus fares for rough sleepers who want to return home.

South Holland District Council, Boston Borough Council and Lincolnshire Police have successfully bid for money from the Government’s Migration Impact Fund to keep the project going in Spalding and Boston for another year.

Spalding police town sergeant Stuart Brotherton said: “We are very fortunate to get this money. Now we have got it we need to ensure it’s well spent and is very productive.”

The councils and police were sparked into action following concerns from business and members of the public. CRI started working in Spalding last summer to tackle anti-social behaviour, homelessness and crime problems.

Some of the funds will be used to employ field officers to go out with police beat teams to engage with anyone they find rough sleeping in the town centre.

Sgt Brotherton said: “The idea is not to say ‘shoo, move on’ but to ask why they are sleeping rough and whether they are seeking employment. If not, are they able to sustain themselves?

“In some cases, they are then offered a return deal to their home country.”

However, Sgt Brotherton says they often find those sleeping rough do not want to return home because they think it’s better to be homeless in England. He says the scheme has had success in Peterborough and Boston.

Had the funding bid been unsuccessful, Sgt Brotherton said any chance of getting the homeless to volunteer to go back to their home countries would have ended.

He says the outreach service provides a bridge between those sleeping rough and the authorities.

Sgt Brotherton said: “I have no issues with foreign nationals coming over here working, integrating, doing their bit, becoming part of the community and the neighbourhood.

“But it’s a different ball game when they are here sleeping on the streets and not contributing.

“It becomes a police issue when they are turning to crime to become self-sufficient.”

The official agreements for the £109,000 are due to be signed within the next couple of weeks.

Lincolnshire Police spokesman James Newall said: “It is hoped that the work this money will enable will have a significant positive impact on our communities and we look forward to working with our partners to make the best possible use of it.”