A ‘One Team’ model of working has been established in Taunton with a specific focus on rough sleepers and street anti-social behaviour.
Taunton Deane Borough Council will chair weekly meetings with partners including the Police, Taunton Association for the Homeless (TAH), Open Door, Somerset County Council and other support agencies to ensure that appropriate and necessary steps are being taken with every individual rough sleeper prioritising those that are causing anti-social behaviour.
It is hoped the multi-agency approach will work both proactively and reactively to minimise as far as possible the causes of rough sleeping, begging and anti-social behaviour and the associated problems they create.
The partners will always take a supportive approach first, however, if someone refuses to engage and acts in a threatening or anti-social way, the agencies will take appropriate action through the legislation available.
Cllr John Williams, Leader of the Council, said: “The laws and powers open to the Council and Police for addressing rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour are in practice fairly limited and often difficult to apply. However, we recognise and share the concerns of the community both in terms of ensuring the welfare of these people and those that are concerned about the image of the town. There is no silver bullet
to resolve rough sleeping in Taunton however we believe that the steps we as a multi-agency team are currently taking will start to make a real difference in the levels of rough sleeping and the behaviour of some individuals.”
The various partners have a range of services in place that have traditionally been effective but changing circumstances including complex mental health issues and serious problems with addiction mean that a different approach is needed.
The One Team method will identify and address the issues of real concern and develop a joined-up service for rough sleepers to help them break the cycle of homelessness and addiction.
It will also mean the Council and Police are able to take action as a last resort in the knowledge that help and support has been offered and refused