Laura Sharman 13 February 2017

A quarter of female rough sleepers victims of sexual violence

A quarter of female rough sleepers victims of sexual violence

Nearly a quarter of female rough sleepers have been sexually assaulted in the past year, according to new research from Crisis.

The charity also found that 60% of female rough sleepers have also been threatened with violence in the past year, compared to 40% of male rough sleepers.

The findings of the research will feature on a Dispatches documentary this evening, revealing that many homeless women are being turned away by local authorities without help, despite presenting with mental health issues, learning difficulties or fleeing domestic abuse.

‘The threat of unprovoked sexual attack, abuse and intimidation is clearly never far away, which is why we need mainstream homelessness services that provide safe, women-only spaces that women feel comfortable accessing and seeking help from,’ said Rebecca Pritchard, director of services at Crisis.

‘While the investigation highlights the severe pressure local authorities are under, we need to make sure that homeless women can get help at an early stage. At present, homeless people of both sexes are often turned away when they go to their councils for help.’

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils were doing everything they could do prevent and solve homelessness, but budget cuts were making it hard to find suitable accommodation for those in need.

Cllr Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the LGA, said: ‘Councils want a review of welfare reforms to consider any impact on homelessness and a housing policy that supports all partners to increase the homes they build across all tenures. With a 40% reduction in local government funding over the last Parliament, it is important that any costs of new measures to prevent and resolve homelessness are matched by new money from government.

‘To end homelessness the Government needs to give councils more powers and funding to resume their historic role as a major builder of affordable homes and to address the widening gap between incomes and rents.’

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