Video shows homeless man found sleeping in bin in Norwich
PUBLISHED: 11:15 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:19 24 February 2020
A video showing a rough sleeper climbing out of a bin in Norwich has prompted calls for urgent action to prevent homeless deaths.
The video, filmed by waste company Biffa, shows a man disturbed from his sleep by an approaching bin lorry at 4.25am on Monday, February 17.
As the lorry reverses towards the waste container, the lid is seen flapping up and down before a rough sleeper emerges from it and walks away.
On Monday - a week after the Norwich video was filmed - a body was found in the back of a bin lorry in Camberwell, south London.
Officers were called at 5.35am to reports of a dead man in the back of an industrial vehicle in Bethwin Road.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the death was being treated as unexplained.
No details about the deceased were given and inquires continue.
An image on social media showed several London Ambulance Service vehicles surrounding a red waste truck, with bags of rubbish spilled onto the ground at its rear.
The number of near misses and rough sleepers being crushed to death in bin lorries has prompted a countrywide study on the issue.
But Norwich-based homeless charity St Martins Housing Trust said there has been a reduction of nearly 50pc in the number of rough sleepers in the city since 2016.
Pathways Norwich, a partnership of seven local organisations, was launched in July 2018 to help people sleeping on the streets to access accommodation and support.
St Martins chief executive Jan Sheldon said: "Pathways Norwich works hard to engage with people who are rough sleeping to ensure that they are offered the specialist support that they need.
"One person sleeping rough is one person too many and along with our stakeholders and partners we are committed to providing information, specialist support and accommodation."
A report by Biffa, the Open University and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management found the risk of deaths by people sleeping in bins has increased since 2014, based on the 70pc increase of rough sleepers in the last six years.
The report, released on Monday, found 35pc of waste companies across the UK found people sleeping in bins in the past year, compared to 21pc in 2014.
The waste company said the issue is not just a winter problem and that people were discovered in bins all year round.
In the report, Petra Salva, of homeless charity St Mungo's, said: "Terrible fatalities occur when people seek refuge in bins.
"We think it's unacceptable that people are forced to sleep rough in the first place but almost unthinkable that people are so desperate that they will seek refuge in bin containers."
Some measures being taken by waste companies to prevent homeless deaths include locking containers, placing danger stickers on bins and contacting homeless charities when a person is found.
Michael Topham, chief executive of Biffa, said: "Urgent action is required now to raise awareness of the dangers of seeking shelter in bins.
"This new research highlights the need not only for the waste industry to take more responsibility for its own practices, but crucially for it to work with its customers to help tackle the issue.
"We are committed to leading this approach to promote policies and procedures for widespread adoption to prevent further tragedies.
"We hope this report highlights the issues that we all need to address and acts as a call to action."
According to the Health and Safety Executive, there have been seven fatalities of members of the public in bins between 2013 and 2018, including homeless people.
The news comes after the announcement Norwich City Council will be awarded governmental funding of £869,534 in the next financial year to help its response to homelessness.
The council said it will invest the money in its Pathways service, as well as towards the employment of a mental health nurse, a winter shelter post and additional hostel beds.
It is part of the government's £112m Rough Sleeping Initiative, with the county to receive £1.4m in total.
Norwich City Council declined to comment on the video.
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