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A fifth of all homeless people have committed a crime to get off the streets
A fifth of homeless people have committed "imprisonable offences" to spend a night in the cells and more than a quarter of women rough sleepers took an "unwanted sexual partner" to escape their plight, new research out today shows.
Hidden Homelessness, a survey of more than 400 rough sleepers by Sheffield Hallam University, reveals the desperate steps taken by the homeless to find shelter.
A major homeless charity warns that these trends will become more pronounced as planned government cuts to benefits begin to hit frontline services.
Unwanted sex has become a way out of homelessness for many. One in seven men and 28% of women had spent a night – or longer – with an unwanted sexual partner to "accommodate themselves".
Others have ventured into prostitution, with almost a fifth of women taking up "sex work" because this offered an opportunity to spend the night off the streets.
Crime can play a big part in rough sleepers' lives. Nearly 30% admitted to committing a "minor crime such as shoplifting or anti-social behaviour" in the hope of being taken into custody for the night.
And a fifth of those questioned said they had avoided being given bail or committed "an imprisonable offence with the express purpose of receiving a custodial sentence as a means to resolving their housing problems".