More than 24,000 people in Britain are facing Christmas sleeping rough, in tents or on public transport, according to new research.
This number has increased massively over the last five years, according to the national homelessness charity Crisis, which commissioned the study from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.
The research shows 12,300 people are currently sleeping rough on the streets and nearly 11,950 are spending their nights in cars, on trains, on buses or in tents.
It found that between 2012 and 2017, these numbers increased by 120 per cent in England and 63 per cent in Wales – but fell six per cent in Scotland.
Crisis says the number of people sleeping rough in England is more than double what Government statistics suggest.
The charity said the study pulled together a range of sources, including data from support services that record people’s experiences of sleeping rough which, according to the researchers, is not included in the Government’s count.
Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “Christmas should be a time of joy but for thousands of people sleeping rough, in tents or on public transport, it will be anything but.
“While most of the country will be celebrating and enjoying a family meal, those who are homeless will face a struggle just to stay safe and escape the cold.”
The charity said those sleeping outside are subject to a range of dangers, with homeless people almost 17 times more likely to be victims of violence and 15 times more likely to be verbally abused.
Crisis said it wants national and devolved governments to tackle the root causes of rough sleeping by strengthening the welfare system and making sure every homeless person has access to mainstream housing as quickly as possible.
It is also asking the public to help by calling support services if they find someone sleeping rough, and by raising funds for both its year-round services and its Christmas centres.
Picture: A homeless man is seen sleeping on the street under Harringay Green Lanes bridge in north London, where up to four people were seen sleeping. More than 24,000 people in Britain will spend Christmas sleeping rough according to new figures by charity Crisis. (Dinendra Haria/Zuma/PA).