THE number of people sleeping rough in Bournemouth has risen by 300 per cent since 2010 - while a national charity for homeless people has called the regional rise of 115 per cent in that time a ‘catastrophe’.

Figures released by Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government reveal Bournemouth Borough Council said there are 48 rough sleepers in the town last year - up from 39 in 2016 and markedly higher than the 12 recorded in 2010.

As a percentage of population, the rough sleeping rate in Bournemouth in 2017 - 0.53 per 1,000 households - ranked twenty-first out of 326 authorities in England.

Earlier this week the Daily Echo reported that the body of homeless man, Kevin Fillsell, was found in a Bournemouth car park.

Following this incident, Cllr Robert Lawton, Bournemouth Borough Council’s portfolio holder for housing, released a 2,000 word statement detailing the support the authority attempted to offer ‘Kev’ and the current position with the Occupy site at the former coal yard in Boscombe.

On the latest figures which were recorded in a street count in October, a Bournemouth Borough Council spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, this reflects the national trend of increasing numbers from previous years.

“We are committed to the delivery of many accommodation and support services to those who are rough sleeping in order to help them move forward in their lives.

“We work with numerous voluntary and statutory services to provide a joined up response.”

The Government’s official annual street count found that on a given night last year 580 people were recorded sleeping rough in the south west.

The figures show that across the country, the number of rough sleepers has risen by 15 per cent - more than 4,700 people.

Homeless charity Crisis is warning that the true number of rough sleepers is likely far greater, as its own research finds that more than 8,000 people were currently sleeping rough across England, predicted to rise to 15,000 by 2026, if nothing changes.

This is on top of an additional 9,000 homeless people sleeping in tents, cars, trains and buses.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “It is truly a catastrophe that in a country as prosperous as this, more and more people are finding themselves forced to sleep in dangerous and freezing conditions, when we have evidence to show how the situation could be turned around.

"The report makes it only too clear that unless we take action as a society, the problem is only going to keep getting worse with every year that passes.

“Rough sleeping ruins lives, leaving people vulnerable to violence and abuse, and taking a dreadful toll on mental and physical health. Our research has shown how rough sleepers are 17 times more likely to be victims of violence. This is no way for anyone to live.

“With the right support at the right time, homelessness doesn’t need to be inevitable. While we warmly welcome the Government’s pledges to tackle rough sleeping, including a Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Taskforce, now that we know the solutions to end rough sleeping for good we’re calling on the Government to take swift action to tackle the problem and fix it once and for all.”

The figures in the Daily Echo region were as follows:

Bournemouth - 48 rough sleepers (up from 39 in 2016)

Poole - 13 rough sleepers (up from 11 in 2016)

Christchurch - five rough sleepers (down from 10 in 2016)

North Dorset - three rough sleepers (up from one in 2016)

Purbeck - one rough sleeper (down from two in 2016)

East Dorset - one rough sleeper (up from zero in 2016)

New Forest - seven rough sleepers (up from four in 2016)