Rough Sleepers

This page gives advice on rough sleeping including how to report someone you're concerned about.

Rough sleepers are defined as 'People sleeping, about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) or actually bedded down in the open air (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments). People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as stairwells, barns, sheds, car parks, cars, derelict boats, stations or "bashes")'.

Source: Evaluating the Extent of Rough Sleeping, Communities and Local Government, 2010.

The definition does not include people sofa-surfing, in hostels or shelters, people in campsites or other sites used for recreational purposes or organised protest, squatters or travellers.

Reporting someone sleeping rough in East Herts

If you are concerned about someone over the age of 18 that you have seen sleeping rough in East Herts, you can use the StreetLink website

to send an alert to the council’s Housing Options Service.  The alert will ask you to provide details of the location, time and brief description of the person you have seen to help us find them.  It is important to note that if you think the person you are concerned about is under 18 please do not contact StreetLink but instead call the police.

Alternatively you can contact the Housing Options Service directly with details of the location, time and a description of the person.

Rough sleeping in severe weather

In periods of Severe Weather, a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated that aims to prevent deaths as a result of severe weather conditions.

When does the SWEP come into place?

If night time temperatures are going to be zero degrees or below for three consecutive nights SWEP must intervene.  The council will give consideration to providing accommodation on the first day the night time temperature is at zero or below, taking into account the severity of the temperature and the number of nights it is predicted to be below zero.  The Housing Options team check the Met Office Website daily during periods of cold weather. 

Where will rough sleepers sleep?

The council will provide bed and breakfast type accommodation or other temporary accommodation. Rough sleepers stay there either until the severe weather ends, or they have found other suitable accommodation, whichever the sooner is.  The cost of the accommodation will be met from existing council resources.

Does this apply to all rough sleepers?

There are exceptions. People assessed as high risk by mental health services, police or probation workers are not placed in B&B's. A high risk person is aggressive, violent or threatening violence. In these circumstances, the team will discuss with our Housing Services Manager and record the details.

What happens if someone doesn't want emergency accommodation?

We will also record when a person refuses emergency accommodation. In all cases, we will offer advice and help. Our aim is facilitating a longer term outcome.

Further Help & Advice

If you need to get in contact or are concerned about someone, you should contact the council's Housing Service as soon as possible via our Housing Assistance Referral Portal.