Apology from St Mungo’s after sharing rough sleeper information
JANUARY 21, 2020
St Mungo’s Chief Executive Howard Sinclair has apologised for sharing information about migrant rough sleepers with the Home Office saying, “The executive team takes full responsibility for this and is sorry it happened.”
Despite St Mungo’s management being repeatedly warned by their staff via Unite that their actions were unethical, that they damaged the work of front-line staff, and were likely to be unlawful it appears that the board has not taken action to replace any executives and there have been no resignations.
When it was publicly reported that St Mungo’s worked with Home Office patrols when they went out on the streets in search of rough sleepers deemed to be in the UK illegally to arrest and deport, St Mungo’s denied that it passed on either the locations where rough sleepers bedded down or personal information about them to Home Office enforcement teams without their consent.
Some rough sleepers who were identified on these patrols were subsequently forcibly removed from the UK and some of these removals have now been found to be unlawful and the Home Office is paying compensation.
A spokesman for the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) is quoted in The Guardian, “St Mungo’s has admitted misleading the press, campaigners and, most importantly, rough sleepers about the way they worked with the Home Office. The damage done in terms of trust may well be irreparable.”
St Mungo’s executive team lacks credibility in the sector and among its own staff, as well as amongst rough sleepers who are less willing to put trust in services that behave in this way.
Unfortunately, this is just one example of an increasingly erratic management which appears to lack direction or ethical compass.
As reported, St Mungo's were recently found in an employment tribunal to have victimised a female staff member who raised questions about equal pay and to have given evidence which was “both unreliable and inherently implausible.”
Management have also taken an extremely hostile attitude to Unite, threatening reps with trespass for attempting to visit members and putting other pressure on individual reps.
For example, Mr Sinclair wrote in a widely circulated email that the Unite convenor would “make a pretty poor ‘martyr’” and took legal advice on union derecognition in 2014.
Management have also unilaterally suspended JNC negotiating meetings – the mechanism through which Unite reps warned them of the risk that their actions would be found to be unlawful.
In addition to legal expenses St Mungo’s senior management have spent £42,000 of the charity’s money on a ‘communications company’ supporting their efforts to undermine the union.
Other concerns include a draconian disciplinary policy and a crude commercial focus which tends to undermine standards.
Concern in the homelessness sector at St Mungo’s poor management and seeming lack of board oversight continues.
Unite will continue to support members in St Mungos in defending their jobs and ethical and professional services to what are some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Paul Kershaw, Chair Unite LE1111 Housing workers.
November 5 2019