Deaths of homeless people in Peterborough revealed by Office for National Statistics

A rough sleeper in Peterborough
A rough sleeper in Peterborough
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The number of homeless people in Peterborough who have died in the past five years has been revealed.

New figures published today (Monday, February 25) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows at least seven people died between 2013 and 2017, the equal fifth highest total for authorities in the East of England.

That total includes three deaths in 2017 - the equal highest number alongside Great Yarmouth - although the ONS estimates that the real figure for Peterborough may actually be four.

The statistical body said its published figures are a “conservative estimate” and that “the real numbers may still be higher”.

The figures are for the deaths of homeless people identified in a certain year, rather than the year in which the death occurred.

The ONS said its definition of homeless people are those sleeping rough or using emergency accommodation around the time of their death.

The figures will not include the death of colourful rough sleeper Valerie Collins who died in May 2018.

Valerie was well known in the city, having set up a display of plants in the entrance of shops in Bridge Street.

The council said she refused offers of support.

The figures from the ONS show that three homeless people were identified as dying in Peterborough in 2017, one in 2016, two in 2015 and one in 2013.

Fenland recorded three deaths of homeless people over the same five year period, while Cambridge recorded 11.

The highest number of recorded deaths in 2017 were in Manchester (17), followed by: Birmingham (15) and Bristol, Lambeth and Liverpool (14).

The estimated number deaths for all five authorities are higher still.

Cllr Irene Walsh, cabinet member for communities at Peterborough City Council, said: “No one should have to sleep rough in our city. We are working hard with other organisations as part of the Safer Off the Streets partnership to get people off our streets and into accommodation.

“To date the partnership has raised over £5,000 and assists many rough sleepers each month in getting off the streets for good and into employment, training and accommodation.

“The average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47, many decades younger than it should be. This is why partnerships such as this are so important.”