Homeless man dies on 'doorstep' of Houses of Parliament

Alexandra Topping
Flowers and cards from the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and his staff left near a Westminster Underground exit. Photograph: Isabel Togoh/PA

MPs have expressed sadness after learning that a man believed to have been sleeping rough had died a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament.

Police were called to Westminster tube station in London at about 7.15am Wednesday after reports of an “unresponsive” man in an area where homeless people gathered, close to a Commons side entrance.

The man was found in the underpass of exit three of Westminster Underground station, the Metropolitan police said. Officers attended the scene with the London Ambulance Service, but the man was pronounced dead at 7.33am.

MPs used Twitter to draw attention to the man’s death and criticise policies they said had contributed to a sharp rise in the number of rough sleepers in the UK.

Rough sleeping in England has increased for seven consecutive years, with official figures showing that 4,751 people slept outside overnight in 2017.

The number of children in England stuck in hostels and other temporary accommodation has risen to more than 120,000, according to government figures.

Flowers and a card signed by Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, were laid at the place where the man died. The card read: “This should never have happened. As a country we must stop walking by. Rest in peace.”

The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, and the Labour MPs Neil Coyle and Emma Lewell-Buck, responded on Twitter.

This month Windsor council was accused of punishing people for being homeless after it announced that it would fine rough sleepers £100 as part of a new “homelessness support strategy”.

The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead decided to impose public space protection orders (PSPOs) banning aggressive or proactive begging, requests for money, bedding and belongings left in a public area, and urination or defecation in town centres in the area, including Windsor, Maidenhead, Ascot and Eton.

Scotland Yard said the death of the unnamed man in Westminster was being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.

A Commons spokesman said: “We are saddened to hear of the death of an individual this morning at Westminster tube station and offer our condolences to their friends and family at this difficult time.”