Number of rough sleepers in Oxford rises

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Media captionThe number of people sleeping rough in Oxford went up from 12 in November 2012 to 19 in November last year

More people are sleeping rough in Oxford despite a pledge by the city council to tackle the problem, new figures show.

The authority said 18 months ago there would be "no second night out" for the city's rough sleepers.

The number went up from 12 in November 2012 to 19 in November last year.

Oxford City Council said there was "a strong commitment" to the No Second Night Out project and funding was secure until March 2015.

The £235,000 scheme was launched in July 2012.

The figures showed 15 of the 19 people identified had spent more than one night on the streets.

Council leader Bob Price said unemployment, mental health problems, alcoholism and drug abuse made rough sleeping a complicated issue to tackle.

'Hidden' figures

"We have dealt with 252 people through this policy since July 2012 - so that's just over 18 months - and that is quite a significant indicator of the success of the policy.

"Before we were dealing with about half that, so we have actually made a significant difference to a lot of people," he said.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns for the homelessness charity Crisis, said: "Those figures are really just the tip of the iceberg.

"They're just a way of measuring trends in homelessness. They're not the actual numbers of people sleeping out on the streets.

"I think most people who work in homelessness services will know more people sleeping rough than that.

"We know more people are sleeping rough, who are hidden, who don't get picked up by those counts, and many more are getting by in other situations - whether it's squatting or sleeping on people's floors or moving from one form of unstable accommodation to another with some nights on the streets."

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