Birmingham & Black Country

Birmingham charity calls homeless deaths investigation

A rough sleeper Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A charity has called on homeless deaths in Birmingham to be investigated properly

Deaths of homeless people on a city's streets should be properly investigated, a charity has said.

The chief executive of YMCA Birmingham, Alan Fraser, said homeless deaths in the city should be subject to safeguarding adult reviews (SARs).

His call comes after homeless man Kane Walker was found dead on a street in Birmingham city centre last month.

Birmingham City Council said it would only investigate cases that met criteria outlined in the Care Act 2014.

SARs establish whether organisations a person came into contact with could have done something differently to protect them.

The council said there were no SARs last year into homeless deaths by Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board (BSAB).

Image copyright YMCA Birmingham
Image caption Chief executive of YMCA Birmingham Alan Fraser said it was "astonishing" homeless deaths were not recorded in the city

Mr Fraser said: "It is astonishing to me these homeless deaths are not being recorded as a matter of course by Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board.

"It is clearly the case that anybody dying on the street or in a homeless hostel is a vulnerable person, and therefore there really needs to be a proper robust investigation of what happened.

"Loads of people have died over the last five years in the homeless system and have not had their deaths investigated properly, meaning we are not learning the lessons for what we could do better."

Communities secretary James Brokenshire said he would be writing to the council to ensure it considered whether SARs would be appropriate in these cases.

Image copyright Helping the Homeless in Birmingham
Image caption Kane Walker died near the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham last month

Sharon Thompson, the council's cabinet member for homes and neighbourhoods, said: "If a person dies or is seriously harmed as a result of abuse or neglect and where there is concern that partner agencies could have worked more effectively to protect the individual, BSAB will conduct a SAR.

"From these reviews, lessons learned will inform improvements in local systems and services."

According to statistics from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Birmingham had a 60% rise in the number of people sleeping rough last year.

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