(This item first appeared in the Brighton Argus on Monday 14th March 2016. Please note I was not responsible for the serious error in the Argus headline for this item)
On Monday night, 7th March, a 39 year old homeless man, asleep in Western Road, Brighton, was set on fire.
I am sickened by this assault on the homeless man. What kind of heartless idiot stoops so low as to attempt to murder a defenceless homeless person as they are asleep? This act is pure evil and has shocked me to the core.
It is not the first time this has happened in Brighton and Hove. Homeless people are far more likely to be the victims of assault than the rest of us and they are four times more likely to die from unnatural causes than the rest of the population. They are 13 times more likely to be the victim of crime.
Average life expectancy of a street homeless man is 47 years, for a street homeless woman it is just 43 years. (In the UK life expectancy for men is 78.8 years, for women 82.8 years).
Street homeless people are 35 times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of community, 84% of rough sleepers in Brighton and Hove have a physical health problem, while 85% have a mental health problem.
The perpetrator of this latest assault brings shame on our city and our response must be to redouble our efforts to ensure that nobody has to sleep on our city in what is, after all, one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world.