Kensington and Chelsea is London's wealthiest borough, brimming with millionaire homes, swanky restaurants and clubs.

Yet right here in the heart of London, the cruellest of society's injustices are also on full display.

The number of rough sleepers seen camping out in royal borough reached 265 last year, after increasing for two years in a row.

Research by City Hall and homeless charity St Mungo’s shows the number of people sleeping rough on the streets increased by 16%, from 229 people in 2017/18. While in 2016/17 the number was 211.

Of the 265 people seen in the borough last year, about 36% had slept rough for two years in a row. And about 20% were known to have been on the streets for more than two years.

In London’s most affluent borough, Knightsbridge, South Kensington, Kensington High Street and North Kensington were areas where rough sleepers were most commonly seen.

Across the whole capital, 8,855 people were seen sleeping rough, which is 18% higher than the 7,484 seen during 2017-18.

A Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we are not alone in facing this challenge, rough sleeping has been increasing in many central London boroughs. 

“We’re doing everything we can to prevent and combat homelessness, including committing to building at least 600 new homes in the next five years, at least 300 of which will be social housing.”

A significant number (43%) of rough sleepers seen in 2018/19 were from mainland and eastern Europe, including nearly 30% who were Romanian or Polish. While 48% of all the rough sleepers were British.

From speaking to every homeless person they saw on the street, researchers found that 56% of rough sleepers had been in permanent accommodation before sleeping rough. While 23.5% had been in short term accommodation. About 10% had arrived in the UK from abroad.

Males dominated the borough's rough-sleeping population, with just 16% being female. And 54% were aged 36 to 55.

The council spokesman added: “If anyone sees someone they think is rough sleeping they should report this to Streetlink (0300 500 0914) who we work closely with and who can provide support. If you have any urgent concerns for someone’s welfare you should call 999.”

Petra Salva, St Mungo’s director of rough sleeping, said: “It’s alarming to see another rise in rough sleeping of 18% in London this year, with a 24% increase of new people to the streets. This highlights the real challenge around prevention.

“These figures also highlight a rise in the number of people returning to rough sleeping after at least a year away from the streets. This shows the importance of getting the right long term accommodation and support in place for people who have slept rough in ensuring people can rebuild their lives away from the street for good.”

Source: MyLondon