POLICE are teaming up with local councils and agencies to run a survey with those who sleep rough or form part of the street community in Sussex.
Homelessness is believed to be a hidden problem in towns like Rye with many who are homeless sofa surfing.
The issues was raised at Rye Town Council recently when Tilling Green Resident’s Association vice chairman Mandy Turner said: “There are more people with housing needs than there are homes and a long waiting list.”
Based on estimated numbers, the number of rough sleepers in Sussex has increased by 40% between 2010 and 2012.
The new initiative, led by a multi-agency working group, will see officers and key workers across the county aiming to visit and engage with every person who sleeps on the streets of Sussex.
They will be asked a series of questions so that services can better understand their vulnerability and determine how they can be connected to local services.
Sussex Homeless Outreach Reconnection and Engagement service Chair, Peter Gaimster said: “Any information that we are able to collect will be useful in providing a better platform to help ensure that any services provided for the street community are fully joined up and that they go on to make a real difference to peoples lives as well as our local communities.”
Chief Inspector Jane Derrick said: “This work is about understanding and responding to the needs of this community who we know can be incredibly vulnerable. The scoping exercise is part of our response, enabling us to identify exactly what the issues are and how we can work together with our partners to provide proactive, long-term solutions.
“The public can support those who are rough sleeping by making contact with the national Street Link service which enables people to alert authorities about a rough sleeper via a website and mobile phone app.”
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne said: “I am pleased to see this initiative being rolled out. Engaging and working with the Sussex street community is something I know Sussex Police is committed to and understanding their needs and vulnerability is a vital part of that work.
This community is extremely vulnerable and is something that we know the wider community want the police and partners to focus on as well.”