POLICE in Redbridge have been conducting coordinated swoops on the resting places of the homeless, confiscating sleeping bags and food parcels that have been donated by the public.
Adam Jaskowiak was one of the men targeted and said he pleaded with police to be able to keep his things but was ignored.
He was sleeping with eight other people finding shelter for the night in the former Ilford Baths in High Road, Ilford.
All of their belongings were bundled into a police car leaving the men, one in his 60s, stunned.
A police chief told the Recorder, the local newspaper, the operation was carried out to “reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers”.
Jaskowiak said: “They were just taking the sleeping bags and chucking out everything. I asked to keep it and the food, but they said ‘no’. I just grabbed as many of my things as possible and put them into a bag and ran.”
He had been given the sleeping bag by the Salvation Army, over the winter months after becoming homeless when his friend died.
John Clifton, corps officer at the Salvation Army, said: “I’m shocked and disgusted. Why would you take the only form of shelter someone has from them?
“We have tried to find out why they were taken and if we can get them back.”
After the raid happened on Thursday, the men went to the Refugee and Migrant Forum of East London, High Road, Ilford, for help.
Chief executive Rita Chadha said: “I am appalled because there’s no logic in this – it’s not as though if they take someone’s sleeping bag they will automatically walk into a house.
“It’s not a lifestyle choice and becoming homeless can happen to anyone.”
She also said the action will damage relations between the police and those sleeping on the streets.
Ilford Chief Inspector John Fish said: “The public rely on police to reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers, this includes the need for us to assist in the removal of temporary structures, tents, and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations.”