Housing

Sutton rail staff suspended after pouring water around homeless man in video

Footage posted to social media showed two men emptying mop buckets on the floor around the man outside the south-west London station

Sutton Station incident

Southern Rail has suspended two members of staff after they were caught on camera tipping a bucket of dirty water around a homeless man as he lay on the ground outside Sutton railway station.

In the video, recorded and posted to Facebook by a member of the public, the conversation between the workers and the man is unclear while they empty mop buckets towards him, leaving the man in a pool of water. The woman who posted the video, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I didn’t start filming until they had already whacked him with the mop and put even more water on him.”

The person recording the footage is heard commenting on the “disgusting behaviour of another human being” before the Southern Rail staff tell her to stop filming, saying she does not know the full story.

The video went viral as social media users expressed outrage at the footage.

“Have some respect for those less fortunate. I wonder if he’d do that to a normal commuter who decided to sit down and refused to move. Disgraceful,” one user commented.

Another said: “This has made me so sad and angry.”

Angie Doll, passenger services director for Southern Railway, said: “We take this incident extremely seriously and have started an investigation. The two staff members seen in the video have been suspended.

“We would like to apologise to the homeless man and we are trying to make contact with him to offer help and support.”

Local homelessness charity Sutton Night Watch confirmed they were aware of the video and that the man in the video was a service user familiar to them. A spokesperson said: “You can clearly see the terrible treatment of a human being.

“In terribly cold conditions, to have water poured on you and to be pushed by a mop is unconscionable.

“Worse still we know this gentleman is diabetic.”

Figures released last year showed that homeless people are nearly 17 times more likely to be victims of violence and 15 times more likely to be verbally abused on the street than other members of the public.

British Transport Police told The Big Issue that they became aware of the incident when the video picked up traction online, and that officers are currently investigating it as an alleged common assault.

When asked about policy regarding rough sleepers on premises, they said their stance would depend on factors like anti-social behaviour and trespassing.

Communities secretary James Brokenshire responded to the incident, saying: “This shocking act shows a complete lack of empathy towards someone who is vulnerable and in need of help.

“I am writing to Southern Rail to ensure this distressing incident is dealt with swiftly and effectively.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact British Transport Police by texting 61016 or calling 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference 489 of 24/02/19.

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