A Cuttingly Office policy of removing EU citizens found sleeping rough on UK ways is unlawful and must stop, the High Court has ruled.
A judge foretold the measure, introduced last year, was discriminatory and broke freedom of move rules.
Campaigners brought the case on behalf of three men facing wasting.
The government said it was disappointed by the ruling – which applies to people from the EU and European Financial Area – but would not be appealing.
The Public Interest Law Unit (PILU) at Lambeth Law Mid-point, which took out the judicial review, said the decision would act upon hundreds of people.
It said the Home Office had been carrying out “accustomed raids” on locations where officials believed they would on European nationals who could be deported.
In her ruling, the judge, Mrs Justice Lang, also mentioned the Home Office was wrong to have used the raids as a chance to substantiate whether the rough sleepers were abusing their right to reside in another European country.
PILU said the High Court had shown itself willing to keep safe the rights of a vulnerable group, adding: “Homelessness cannot humanely be handled with by detaining or forcibly removing homeless people.”
Three men faade removal orders from the Home Office were selected as “test occasions” for the hearing:
- Latvian Gunars Gureckis, who had been in the UK since 2009, and had a large history of sleeping rough interspersed with periods where he did take accommodation
- Polish citizen Mariusz Cielecki, who arrived in the UK in 2015 and unsuccessfully cracked to appeal against his order, claiming he was looking for work
- Polish patrial Mariusz Perlinski, who was in poor health and alcohol dependent and had lived in the UK since 2011. He suited homeless in November 2016 and was held in an immigration centre.
The judge indicated the order should be dropped against Mr Gureckis, while Mr Cielecki is now envisioned to appeal against his. The order against Mr Perlinski was withdrawn in November after he rather commenced living with a relative.
She said “rough sleeping, even accompanied by low even offending such as begging, drinking in a public place and other lane nuisances, would not be grounds for removal” and the Home Office’s “less positive” treatment of rough sleepers from outside the UK could not be justified.
The Competent in Office said the EU’s Free Movement Directive allowed member states to insinuate restrictions on people in certain situations, including where there were apprehensions about security, public health, or fraud.
Its lawyers had argued the intelligence agents to remove the rough sleepers were a “sensible and lawful approach”.
A spokesman about: “We will consider carefully what steps are necessary to ensure we lay bare the judgment in future enforcement.”
He added that most of the people moved under the measure had not exercised their rights to residency in the UK when made and were therefore unlawfully in the country.
Speaking after the ruling, Matthew Downie from the hoboes charity Crisis, who gave evidence against the Home Office, communicated the policy had been “brutal and indiscriminate”. He said in many cases individual had been taken away from help they were emplaning to resolve their homelessness.