Jobless migrants living rough face removal
10 April 2010
Migrants who have not found work and are sleeping rough will be deported because they are not protected by the EU rules on right to free movement.
Under the trial operation, more than two dozen homeless migrants in Peterborough, who are mainly Eastern Europeans, have been warned they face removal.
Under EU rules, citizens have the right to stay in another member state for up to three months but after that time they must be able to support themselves either through working, studying or be self-sufficient.
If not, they can be deported to avoid them becoming a burden on the state and taxpayer.
But the Conservatives said the move was a sign the Government had been too slow in dealing with the problem.
In a trial which began last week, Peterborough City Council, Cambridgeshire police and the UK Border Agency targeted jobless migrants living rough in wild camps and nature reserves.
Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, said: "Economic migrants who find themselves out of work cannot simply remain in the UK, they will face removal.
"People have to be working, studying or self-sufficient and if they are not we expect them to return home.
"This scheme to remove European nationals who aren't employed is getting them off the streets and back to their own country.
"This exercise is a pilot at present. We are focusing on problem areas in local communities including areas where there are challenges with rough sleeping, destitution and anti-social behaviour."
Peterborough is notorious for squatting migrants and was selected to take part in the pilot scheme after referrals from from the council and police.
Home owners have complained that destitute migrants have moved into garden sheds and even built tree houses on private property without consent.
Officials have now issued warnings to 27 migrants living in shrubs near a nature reserve.
Sarah Hebblethwaite, Peterborough City Council rough sleeper outreach officer, said: "It is not acceptable for people to be living in these 'shanty town' conditions.
"We asked for support from UK Border Agency because a significant number of those sleeping rough come from the countries that joined the European Union in 2004.
"Once people resort to sleeping rough they can enter a downward spiral of neglect that often results in serious health problems.
"This action was an effective way to help rough sleepers evaluate how they can improve their life."
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: "It's high time this matter was dealt with effectively.
"The sooner these people are either employed or returned home the better."
But Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: "We need to be more energetic in enforcing the laws in this area.
"The Government has been very slow in catching up with this problem, which is caused by the failure of their economic policies."?
Last month gangs of immigrants were blamed for "pillaging" fish and killing swans in the city.
Animal welfare officers in Peterborough started an investigation after the discovery of butchered swan carcases and a decline in fish stocks.
Fishermen claim that eastern European migrants are responsible for the incidents along the River Nene.