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This morning, we heard:

‘Some people experiencing homelessness have told the BBC they feel safer on the streets than in housing provided by local authorities and housing associations.’

Some people eh? I checked the extended report on the BBC Scotland website. How often does the word ‘safer’ appear? Zero. Is there any mention of the idea of feeling safer on the streets? Not one. Is there some other research by the BBC saying this? Why ‘the BBC’ and not ‘BBC Scotland?’ Are they reporting the experience of some English people? All I could find in recent BBC reporting was this:

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So, no sign of the homeless in England feeling safer on the streets.

What about the BBC Scotland website report?

It’s based on Heriot Watt study so might that be more reliable than ‘some people?’ Strangely headlined: ‘Are more people sleeping rough in Scotland?’, it’s full of fairly positive news about the situation here compared to that in England so not too convenient for the Reporting Scotland Down team and explaining why even the web-reporter had to invent a headline. In the report we read:

Has the number of rough sleepers risen?

The Homeless Monitor Scotland 2019 report said rough sleeping appeared to have been relatively stable over the past three years.

It said these numbers ranged between 650 and 800 and had fluctuated to only a moderate degree since 2011.

This analysis also indicates that levels of rough sleeping in Scotland may have fallen until around 2013 and remained relatively stable since then.

Prof Bramley said there was anecdotal evidence that it may have got worse in the past year, but that there was no official confirmation of this.

According to the official government stats, the numbers have reduced significantly since 2002/03.

We also see from the researchers:

How do you count rough sleepers?

One method is “point-in-time” street count. In both England and Wales, some form of this is used to provide official statistics on the number of people who are street homeless. However, according to Prof Bramley, this method is always likely to provide an underestimate because of the inherently chaotic and hidden nature of rough sleeping.

The Scottish government does not conduct a regular “headcount”. Instead, it uses data from the form which is filled in by people making a homeless application to their local authority. The form asks whether a member of the applying household slept rough during the previous three months.

Prof Bramley says that because Scotland has an “inclusive” approach to tackling homelessness as many as 70% are in contact with their local authority at some point. A good starting point.


Yes, yes but some people have told us!