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‘Lessons to be learned’ after death of homeless man
9:45am Monday 14th January 2013 in News
A HOMELESS man whose body was found four days after he checked into a Harrogate hotel had been refused accomodation by two councils, an investigation has found.
Both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council turned down requests to accommodate the man over the Christmas holidays in 2011.
They were not responsible for his death but the handling of his case was unsatisfactory, a serious case review has found.
The report has urged a review of policies for dealing with vulnerable people.
An inquest into the death of the man, referred to as Robert, at Harrogate Magistrates Court in April 2012 found he had died of an accidental overdose of morphine which he was using as a painkiller.
The serious case review by the county council’s Safeguarding Adults Board said the homeless man was a long-term rough sleeper.
His first contact with agencies in Harrogate was on 21 December 2011 when he requested support to find accommodation, telling a day service for homeless people that he had been living in a tent near Wetherby.
He said he was struggling to continue living in such a way as injuries he had sustained in a traffic accident seven years ago were worsening.
Between December 21 and the discovery of his body on January 6, he had been in contact with a number of statutory and voluntary agencies in the Harrogate area.
A local charity had made repeated bids to find him emergency council accommodation but all requests were refused. He was placed in a hotel paid for by the charity, but died shortly afterwards.
The report said the Christmas holiday period had made contact with councils complicated because of needing to rely on out-of-hours arrangements.
Jonathan Phillips, independent chair of North Yorkshire Safeguarding Adults Board, said: “There are a number of lessons to be learned for all the agencies involved. In particular there is a need for greater understanding and information sharing across agencies on both homelessness legislation and its interaction with community care and the duty to take vulnerability into account in relation to homelessness.”