S DAVIS (June 23) expresses concern at both the high number of homeless people and the apparent lack of police to deal with any anti-social behaviour.

What needs to be understood is that both the presence of homeless people and the lack of police are a direct consequence of both the coalition and the current government’s austerity programme.

Less obvious, but just as damaging, is the growing tide of hatred, resentment and blame attached to the groups of people who are the direct consequence of a broken society that is failing its most vulnerable at every stage.

To expect the police (whatever their numbers), or punitive measures such as Public Space Protection Orders, to provide the solution is both futile and morally bankrupt because they tackle the symptoms but not the cause.

We are hoping the new BCP council will recognise this and change the way homeless people are treated.

What is needed is an understanding of how we got here, and a different political, social and ethical answer.

And we don’t have to look far to see how this is achieved.

In many other European countries (e.g. Finland, Denmark) where a “housing first” approach is used, and where economic and social inequality is an insignificance, numbers of street homeless are negligible.

In other countries (Portugal) where substance misuse is now accepted and responded to as a health crisis, and interventions given which reflect this, both drug related crime, street homelessness and drug related death have been massively reduced.

We should all be embarrassed by the society we have created, but we all have the ability to change it.


Chair, Poole Labour Party, Sandbanks Road, Poole