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New rough sleeping data shows Wrexham amongst highest in Wales – but quality of local outreach work could distort comparisons

NOTE: This content is old - Published: Thursday, Feb 1st, 2018.

New statistics have been released showing Wrexham and Cardiff being the highest areas for recorded rough sleeping, however with local outreach work and therefore understanding being better than other authorities, the comparison across Wales does not appear to be realistic.

In 2016 there was estimated to be 61 people to be sleeping rough in Wrexham during a two week period of October 2016, and last year the data states that had fallen to 45 people – however another measure paints a different picture, and some authorities have reported they have zero rough sleepers.

The new data explains it was calculated via a two week survey and “…should not be regarded as conclusive and are
based on the perspective of the homeless persons’ responses to the questionnaires”, with the work taking place via outreach and other services to calculate the numbers.

The report states: “Despite a decrease of over a quarter (26 per cent) compared with the previous year, Wrexham continued to be the local authority with the second highest estimated for rough sleepers over the 2 week period in October 2017 at 45 persons.”

One reason for Wrexham’s apparent decrease is explained as: “The largest decrease was reported in Wrexham with 16 less estimated rough sleepers in the two weeks in October 2017 than in the previous year. Again the reasons for the decrease between 2016 and 2017 varied from area to area, but included engagement with long-term rough sleepers through various projects and initiatives.”

Cardiff recorded the highest figures with 92 people, and other authorities recorded zero or low figures, for example Flintshire just 2 people thought to be sleeping rough.

The report states Wrexham’s figures could be higher due to better local data collection, with various outreach services in place, compared to other authorities where such services may not exist or have not taken part.

Comparatively Wrexham has the highest estimated rate of rough sleepers compared to population, with 3.3 rough sleepers per 10,000 persons, followed by Gwynedd, with a rate of 2.7 estimated rough sleepers per 10,000 persons, and Cardiff with a rate of 2.5 estimated rough sleepers per 10,000 persons.

A night count also took place to give a snapshot for the data. The count took place between 10pm on Thursday 9th November and 5am on Friday 10th November 2017 with Wrexham reporting 44 people sleeping rough, up from 27 in 2016 – an increase of 62%.

This increase is mainly attributed to ‘improved intelligence obtained on the location of those sleeping rough’, indicating if authorities are aware of where people rough sleep they would be counted, however if they were not they would not be counted.

Across Wales local authorities reported a total of 188 individuals sleeping rough across Wales on the night of the count. This was an increase of a third (33%, 47 people) on the previous year.

Of the 22 local authorities, 6 authorities reported no persons sleeping rough within their area on the night of the count compared with 9 authorities in 2016.

Three of these, the Vale of Glamorgan, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen, had also reported no rough sleepers over the two week survey period.

Across Wales authorities reported 233 emergency bed spaces across Wales. Of these, 42 (18%) were unoccupied and available on the night of the snapshot count. In 10 local authorities reporting rough sleepers on the night of the count there were no unoccupied, available emergency bed spaces.

Wrexham reported there were 16 emergency beds for use in 2016 and 2017, with 100% occupancy on both dates surveyed.

The full data release from earlier today can be found on this PDF.

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