The mayor of London has activated emergency cold weather measures after temperatures were forecast to drop as low as minus 6C overnight in the south and east of England.
The severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) ensures that councils and charities across London open emergency accommodation for homeless people when temperatures drop below freezing.
Sadiq Khan praised “tireless” relief organisations for their efforts to prevent the homeless suffering in the conditions.
“Across the capital, we are doing everything we can to prevent anyone sleeping rough in these freezing conditions,” he said.
The Met Office expects the temperature to plunge throughout Wales and southern England overnight, with minus 6C temperatures forecast at Benson, Oxfordshire and Santon Downham, Suffolk.
What is cold weather protocol?
Cold weather protocol or severe emergency weather protocol is an emergency response to prevent the deaths of people who sleep rough during winter.
SWEP is activated by local authorities across the country when temperatures are forecast to be lower than zero degrees for three nights, or in London for one night, according to Eden.gov.
During periods of extreme cold, housing authorities must provide facilities for rough sleepers to prevent people dying from exposure.
The Government must provide bed-and-breakfast-type accommodation for rough sleepers or other temporary acccommodation.
Rough sleepers can stay there either until the severe weather ends or they have found other suitable accommodation, whichever is the sooner.
Rough sleepers are:
People sleeping in the open air.
People about to bed down (sitting on/in or standing next to their bedding) in the open air.
People actually bedded down (such as on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters or encampments).
People in buildings or other places not designed for habitation (such as sheds, cars, stairwells, barns, car parks, derelict boats and so on).
Mr Khan said: “Too many people are facing a freezing winter on the streets of the capital without the safe, secure accommodation they need. Across the capital, we are doing everything we can to prevent anyone sleeping rough in these freezing conditions.
“London’s councils and charities will be working even harder this week to support some of the most vulnerable people in our city. On behalf of all Londoners, I thank them for their tireless efforts.”