The UK homeless crisis means refuse collectors are now living with the fear that they could accidentally kill a person sleeping in a commercial wheeled bin as they attempt to stay warm for the night.
That’s a fear expressed by a national waste management company which says that hundreds of people take the risk on any given night, bedding down in large bins set aside for paper, cardboard or general waste, either through homelessness or substance abuse.
According to BusinessWaste.co.uk, Britain’s national waste organisation, that means refuse collectors are having to check bins before they empty them in case they accidentally inflict terrible injuries or even death on someone inside.
Kirklees refuse workers do the same.
Business Waste’s Mark Hall said: “It’s not just the homeless, even though that’s bad enough. There are also drunks sleeping off a session on their way home and even drug addicts.
“It’s terrifying for our staff to find somebody lurking inside on their early morning rounds, and they constantly worry if they’ve ever accidentally killed somebody.”
It’s almost impossible to tell how many people are sleeping in unsecured commercial wheeled bins every night, but BusinessWaste.co.uk is certain that the problem runs into hundreds, if not thousands of cases.
“A bin behind a bank, shop or office filled with paper waste provides a relatively comfortable ‘bed’ for the right with a roof over your head,” says Mark. “But there is a genuine danger that the person inside might be too soundly asleep when the refuse truck comes.”
A Kirklees Council spokeswoman said: “Kirklees Council waste operatives are aware of the need to check for anyone sleeping in the larger trade waste bins. This is fortunately a rare occurrence, as rough sleeping is relatively low in Kirklees when compared with some larger cities.”
Police have revealed the body of missing 26-year-old airman Corrie McKeague could have been in a bin lorry.
Corrie disappeared after a night out in Bury St Edmunds last September.
CCTV has shown that a waste lorry made a collection in the area a short time after his last confirmed sighting and the search is now concentrating on a landfill site.
Mark Hall added: “It seems Corrie’s disappearance may have been a tragic accident and we cannot begin to think how the innocent waste workers are feeling right now.
“This is one tragedy that is being played out in public. How many other incidents involving homeless people who have fallen off the radar are going unrecorded?”