Street counts - how many people are sleeping rough?

Frequently asked questions

Why does the street count not tally with what I see in Oxford?

Each street count is a snapshot that provides helpful information at a particular point in time. The trend over a longer period of time is more important, whether it is up or down.

It uses a consistent method of capturing information, but it is not intended to be a complete picture of people sleeping rough in Oxford.

A street count is conducted on one particular night and cannot record everyone in the area with a history of rough sleeping. We recognise that there may well be more people sleeping rough than we are able to count.

Why do the street count numbers go up and down each time it is done?

A number of factors might have an impact upon the data recorded during the street count


Good, bad or indifferent weather on the night of a count can affect the result. For example, bad weather may mean people have made temporary arrangements to access accommodation.

Not all known rough sleepers may be counted

During a street count people who would normally sleep rough might be found walking around engaging with the night time economy, antisocial behaviour or begging. We cannot count these individuals as they are not bedded down or about to bed down.


Whilst we try to communicate verbally with people in tents, in line with safeguarding procedures we will not enter a tent without the presence of a police officer. Police officers usually assist with the count outside of the city centre. If we cannot fully determine that someone sleeping rough is in a tent, we cannot count them.

Site inaccessibility

We make every effort to investigate areas where it is known people who sleep rough may be bedded down. However, if a site is deemed unsafe to enter, anyone sleeping there may not be counted.

Count date

The date of a street count can have an impact if there is a lot of activity in the city centre - for example, around Christmas, when there are more people out later on the streets of Oxford. This may drive some rough sleepers away from the centre because they feel less safe. Alternatively, it may draw in others in to conduct anti-social behaviour such as begging. Rough sleepers might not end up being counted in either of these scenarios.

How often are street counts

There is a national street count in November. The government uses the results of this count to compile its annual rough sleeper data, which is normally released in January.

We conduct a street count every two months as part of our funding agreement with the Rough Sleeper Initiative. We will release the results of all these counts.