Norwich City Council Does Not Count Rough Sleeper Deaths In City

Norwich City Council has no idea how many rough sleepers have died in the city in the last five years: when they died, their gender, or their age.

By Jazz, 14, and Martina, 15, Norwich · April 9, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

Norwich City Council has admitted that it does not record deaths of its rough sleeping population, despite promises to help homeless people in its city. 

In response to a Freedom of Information request made by media literacy charity The Student View, asking how many rough sleepers had died in Norwich in the last five years, the council stated: “The council does not record or hold this information.”

The council also did not know when rough sleepers died, what their gender was, or how old they were.

Despite this, Norwich City Council’s budget for supporting rough sleepers rose by more than 600% in the last five years, from £142,000 in 2016/17, to £1,011,000 in 2020/21.

This follows the council’s 2018 formation of the Pathways initiative, which brought together seven organisations with a focus on helping rough sleepers find support and a place to sleep.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments, homelessness in Norwich has risen by 350% over the last decade. 

Norwich City Council declined to comment on the findings.

Why did students choose to cover this story?

Jazmine, 14, and Martina, 15, both from Norwich, said: “We chose this topic because we want to raise awareness on the issues of homelessness in Norwich. This is an important topic because it effects the lives of some in our society and prevents them from having an optimum life. This a prevalent reality for many in this region and should be addressed by more fortunate members of the public who can help make a difference. To lower the numbers of homeless individuals, we decided to write an article on the subject which should hopefully encourage readers to tackle the problem more effectively. Funding and awareness of support teams can help to solve the above issue.”

How did the answers make our journalists feel?

At the time of writing this, the students’ Freedom of Information request had not yet been returned.

“As our FOIs haven’t come back with any information, we cannot say how we feel about the responses we have received. However, we can say how we feel about the fact that they haven’t responded.  This makes me believe that they aren’t responsible when it comes to time management and do not have the public’s needs at heart. However, I do believe that the Norwich city council is much more helpful, due to the fact they help find houses for people in desperate need and are beneficial to society.”