Four die sleeping in bins

Article @ Morning Star, published 19 May 2015

Four people were crushed to death last year after seeking shelter in industrial wheelie bins.

The victims were killed after being tipped with rubbish into lorries.

Waste collection firm Biffa also revealed yesterday that its crews had reported finding 93 people sleeping in their bins in the last year.

The company announced it would install 140 “life-saving” CCTV cameras on their 800-strong fleet to help prevent more deaths.

Speaking to the Star, homeless action group Streets Kitchen founder Jon Glackin said the deaths were “a very sad reflection on our society.

“One would have thought that even one tragic avoidable death would have spurred refuse companies to take action sooner. “We welcome Biffa’s new security mechanisms, although this will be used in less than a quarter of their vehicles, so it is not by any means a solution.

“A real solution would be to remove the reasons for homelessness by forcing our councils and government now to uphold their legal responsibilities for all their citizens rather than treating them like rubbish to be easily discarded.”

According to homeless support network StreetLink homelessness in Britain has risen by 55 per cent in the last five years.

Almost 3,000 people are estimated to have slept rough on an average night in 2014.

The charity’s director Matt Harrison said: “Sleeping rough is dangerous, and many people will do whatever they can to find safety for the night.“However, seeking shelter in refuse bins is extremely dangerous and can often be fatal.”

His group has launched a website and free mobile app “that allows members of the public to alert local services about the location of someone sleeping rough so they attempt to find and connect them with support.”

But Biffa played down the extent of the problem.

Divisional health, safety, environment and quality coach Tim Standring told BBC Radio 4: “The general school of thought is that they’re all homeless people but that’s not necessarily the case.

“They are people that have maybe got lost and not managed to get themselves home. “We’ve had revellers who’ve enjoyed the night before and haven’t managed to make it home.”

Charities also cried foul as coverage of the events seemed to be blotted out by news of Biffa’s technology.

A spokesman for the national umbrella for homeless charities Homeless Link told the Star the BBC had “missed the point” when reporting on Biffa’s new cameras. According to Homeless Link, the corporation was more interested in covering the new tech features installed for “peace of mind” than in the tragedy unfolding on Britain’s streets.