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Diane Taylor
Mon 5 Mar 2018 14.40 GMT

Last modified on Mon 5 Mar 2018 22.00 GMT
Immigration and asylum.

St Mungo’s cooperated with Home Office patrols looking for migrant rough sleepers deemed to be in UK illegally.

A leading homelessness charity has worked with Home Office patrols as they go out on the streets in search of rough sleepers deemed to be in the UK illegally to arrest and deport, the Guardian has learned.

St Mungo’s is one of the largest providers of homelessness outreach services in the UK, with 17 outreach teams across the south and south-west. Its website says it is “here for every step of the journey away from homelessness” and its outreach teams work to “gradually build up trusting relationships” with people who are sleeping rough.

But St Mungo’s has admitted to the Guardian that it has cooperated with Home Office immigration, compliance and enforcement (Ice) teams when they go looking for rough sleepers who are in the UK illegally.

The Home Office’s approach has been deemed unlawful in some cases. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has suspended cooperation with the Ice patrols.

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A September 2016 Home Office training document obtained by the Guardian, which features the St Mungo’s logo, states: “This teamwork which sees both the charity referring eligible people to immigration enforcement [IE] for help with voluntary returns and IE referring people to St Mungo’s has already proved beneficial for both bodies.”

Asked about its work with the Home Office, St Mungo’s said some of its contracts with local authorities specified that it should work with Ice teams. “I get why that can be seen as strange and unpopular for some people,” said Petra Salva, the charity’s director of rough sleeping services. “It’s a difficult climate we’re operating in.

Askfed about the work described in the 2016 document, Salva said officials from Home Office enforcement teams “go up to individuals sleeping in sleeping bags and interview them. Sometimes they end up arresting them”.

It continues to work with the Home Office by passing on details of people from other countries who wish to return home.

The disclosure of its past work with the Home Office drew criticism from elsewhere in the charity sector.

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