There’s a homeless man I see every day, who sleeps in a subway. He’s pleasant and harmless. He used to be a promising chef apparently. People choose to give him money: he never asks. He keeps himself smart and clean, thanks to a nearby centre that opens in the week, during the day. He’s handing out Christmas cards to people who have helped him this year.

He was arrested this week for begging. He spent the night in the cells as bail was not granted. He claimed this was fine by him: a warm dry night with hot food and drink and he didn’t have to walk to court in the morning. The judge fined him £20 but dismissed it in recognition of the night in jail. He was straight back where he started, doing no harm, although now he is a trainee Big Issue seller.

He alleges that the following night, certain uniformed individuals approached him and offered that if he disappeared that night, they wouldn’t bother him for a year. Apparently that night was the night the homeless count was to be taken.

This seems to me quite evil. It’s bad enough that people get trapped on the street, without others fiddling the statistics. What happens when the area’s 500 (say) homeless find their centre is closed because it was funded for 50?

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