Investigation launched after document for TfL staff calls homeless 'dirty & smelly'

Investigation launched after document for TfL staff calls homeless 'dirty & smelly'

Guidance issued to staff at Transport for London (TfL) has been criticised for its description of buskers and homeless people – The Times reports.

The advice was distributed to workers on the London Underground last year, but has been withdrawn with an investigation pending.

In the document, titled ‘Safer Steps’, homeless people were described as “dirty and smelly”, and buskers were labelled “not particularly musical”.

The document also instructed staff to consult with their co-workers, confirm that CCTV was in operation, and contact police if they encountered a homeless person.

It reads: “From time to time vagrants gain access to the London Underground system. They are often dirty and smelly but, in reality, they are usually fairly amenable to being moved on, although there’s always the exception. Additionally, some are affected by alcohol and this, in turn, can make them aggressive.

“Buskers can be a real nuisance on stations. Not only do they obstruct passageways but they are often not particularly musical.”

Steve Griffiths, London Underground’s Chief Operating Officer, says: “I apologise wholeheartedly for the language used, which is completely unacceptable and wholly unreflective of our views or approach to this issue.”

The news received criticism from charities for the homeless.

Howard Sinclair, Chief Executive of St Mungo’s, says: “Each person’s story, a tragedy in its own right, will only end well if we help people rediscover their self-respect, confidence and good health. It is a shame that whoever wrote, and whoever agreed, this guidance overlooked that fact. I’m sure that on reflection they will have wished they had not.”

Jon Sparkes, Crisis’ CEO, adds: “People forced to sleep rough deserve better than to be dehumanised or seen as a nuisance. Many are often in desperate circumstances. They might have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse. They need access to the right help so they can rebuild their lives.”

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