'Violence against homeless people is a global problem'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Communities and also in Legal
The Big Issue
Violence against homeless people is a global problem which too often results in death, the International Network of Street Papers (INSP) has warned.
Responding to the tragic murders of two Big Issue vendors in Birmingham City centre, INSP condemned the attacks and sent its condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
Wayne Lee Busst, 32, and Ian Watson-Gladwish, 31, were both fatally stabbed in front of shoppers whilst selling The Big Issue last Friday evening.
John Ward, 32, has since appeared before Birmingham magistrates to hear allegations that he knifed the two men.
Ward, of no fixed address, was placed on remand and will appear in court again tomorrow.
INSP says the killings are not isolated cases. With 14,000 vendors on the streets of 600 cities at any one time, INSP street papers report violent incidents on a regular basis.
The Big Issue is one of 122 street papers in 40 countries that make up the INSP network.
In 2009 and 2010, over a dozen INSP street papers in the US ran reports on hate crimes against homeless people. They found that between 1999 and 2010, over 1,000 'bias-motivated' attacks were committed against the homeless in the US, 291 of which resulted in murder.
In Brazil, INSP street paper Aurora de Rua reported that 62 homeless people were murdered in various states in just one year.
According to the paper, little progress has been made in the police investigations for most of these cases.
INSP's executive director, Lisa Maclean, said: "We condemn every form of violence against homeless people in the strongest possible way. These recent murders, and all the ones before, remind us again just how dangerous life on the streets can be.
"Street papers are a stepping stone to a life away from homelessness. Our vendors have chosen to help themselves through dignified employment. They deserve to work without abuse, the risk of assault or even death, like everyone else."
Despite efforts by police officers and passers-by to administer first aid to the two stab victims on Friday, both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Detective Inspector Buck Rogers, who is leading the investigation, said: "We’ve had a fantastic response from the public so far and their information has proved vital to our investigation.
"Our enquiries continue and if there is anyone who saw something on Friday evening and hasn’t yet come forward we urge them to call us now on 101."
The victim's families have spoken of their loss. In a statement, Mr Busst’s family said: "We are deeply saddened by Wayne's death, he will be greatly missed by all his family and all that knew him.
"We also think of Ian’s family as they share in the grief at this sad time.
"We ask the press to respect the families request for privacy at this time, so that we can grieve in peace.
"The family would ask any member of the public with information that may assist the Police investigation come forward."
Mr Watson-Gladwish’s family said in a tribute: "Ian was a husband, son, brother and dad. He was a kind loving person.
"To be taken away from us in these circumstances has left us all devastated, we will miss him dearly."
Meanwhile, West Midlands Police's knife-crime lead officer, Chief Inspector Simon Wallis, has reassured the public that fatal knife attacks are rare and that the number of knife-related incidents has fallen significantly over the last decade.
He said: "The force is committed to tackling knife crime and, in the last decade, the number of reported incidents involving knives has reduced by around 75% – that’s some 3,000 fewer victims.
"We have played a lead role in numerous national programmes designed to tackle knife crime and proactively engage with young people in our schools, diverting them away from gangs and warning against the dangers of carrying knives. In fact, our Guns & Knives Take Lives presentation has reached in excess of 20,000 pupils across the region and we've had excellent feedback from teachers about the positive impact our input has had on students.
"There have been some high profile, tragic deaths involving knives but these are mercifully rare.
"The force remains committed to driving the knife-crime figure down further and this month will see the launch of a knife campaign which raises awareness of the consequences of carrying a knife."