Sleeping homeless found in city centre bins 'almost killed' by refuse lorries

Homeless people found sleeping in industrial bins in Wakefield city centre “could have been killed” after they were almost tipped into refuse lorries, Wakefield Council has said.

Bins in the city centre, where the homeless seeking refuge.
Bins in the city centre, where the homeless seeking refuge.

Letters have been issued to businesses to ask them to check their bins regularly after waste collection workers had to intervene.

The letter read: “If they had not been seen by our crews, then this could have led to them being tipped into the vehicle with the waste and being badly injured or killed.

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“By promoting the awareness of this issue, it may stop any lives being lost.”

The council says that the problem arises during winter months as the most destitute look for shelter during freezing conditions.

Businesses are being urged to spot the signs, like pallets being moved next to bins to gain access, any bedding strewn around or evidence of drink or drugs use around the bins.

Gary Blenkinsop, Wakefield Council’s service director for streetscene said: “There have been national campaigns to highlight the dangers of people sleeping in bins for many years, which are carried out by the waste industry and the Health and Safety Executive.

“We feel that it is vitally important that we also raise awareness of this issue locally and have done so for a number of years, targeting just over 1,000 local business this year.

“We have also trained our staff to check each bin before it is emptied, to prevent people from getting harmed.

“Business operators, particularly those who have larger waste bins that might be accessible by the public, should be vigilant.”

After plans for a homeless centre in Wakefield city centre were turned down in September, applicant Terry Smith said council planners were “ignoring the problem”.

And after the bin-warning letters were sent out, Mr Smith has reiterated his stance and said: “The council had the chance to stop this problem in Wakefield by granting permission for a hostel for the homeless.

“How sad is it that businesses are having to be asked to check their commercial bins to ensure no-one gets tipped into a bin wagon and crushed?”

Mr Smith has appealed the council’s decision and a decision will be made at a later date.