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Ten years ago a man believed to be homeless was killed after the wheelie bin he’d been sleeping in was emptied into a dump truck.
The body of 50-year-old John Basset was found at a recycling depot in Wirral – he was discovered with head injuries consistent with being crushed.
Following a coroner's report, the precise cause of death was found to be severe blunt force trauma and mixed drug intoxication,Circularreported.
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The driver who picked up the bin said he found nothing unusual about the collection and it wasn’t until later when he received a call from the recycling centre that he discovered the horrific truth.
The tragic death of Mr Basset is far from an isolated incident, however, with many people killed or coming close in the 10 years since he passed.
Just a year after his passing a second man, Ranjit Singh, was found in a pile of rubbish when it was lifted onto a conveyor belt.
He was killed by a large metal claw crane at a recycling plant in Tipton, West Midlands.
The 48-year-old was found to have suffered a broken spine and a shattered pelvis.
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In a gruesome statement, West Midlands Police's DC Aki Heer said: “A post-mortem found he had sustained catastrophic crushing injuries including a broken spine and shattered pelvis and that the injuries were consistent with the large claw machinery found at recycling sites.”
In 2020, the Guardian reported at least seven people were known to have been killed in the last five years after sleeping in waste containers.
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A joint report from Biffa, the Open University and the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management found numbers soared in the years to 2020, with most of the deaths taking place in winter as people scrambled for any way possible to keep warm.
In 2019, Biffa reported 109 cases of “near misses” were registered.
It noted there had been a 14% increase in the number of incidents of people sleeping in bins drawing a connection to the 70% rise in the number of people sleeping rough between 2014 and 2017.
In September 2016 RAF gunner Corrie McKeague, 23 and from Fife, went missing while on a night out. He was last seen climbing into a bin, caught on CCTV.
His body has never been found and in March this year his cause of death was confirmed at "compression asphyxia in association with multiple injuries".
Companies from the worlds of homeless charity work and waste collection have been outspoken on the issue.
Speaking to the Daily Star, a Biffa spokesperson said: "We have been actively campaigning on the waste industry-wide issue of people sleeping in waste containers for the last 10 years.
“As a member of the Environmental Services Association, Biffa has, for many years, been part of the Waste Industry Safety and Health forum (WISH) and is currently chairing the latest review of industry guidance on best practice for dealing with the issue.
"In 2020 we co-published a report investigating the extent of the problem and recommending the action that needs to be taken – including calling on waste companies, waste producers, homeless charities, and the public to work together – to tackle it.
"We continue to explore opportunities to work with charities and other third sector organisations to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless."
As of Autumn 2021, it was reported around 2,440 people were sleeping rough on the streets of England.
Now, as winter approaches and the cost-of-living crisis takes people to the brink, concerns have been raised that these numbers could increase.
In part of a statement made to the Daily Star, Kiran Ramchandani, director of Policy and External Affairs at Crisis, said: “Horrifyingly, those affected by homelessness are ten times more likely to die than those of a similar age in the general population.
"It’s a brutal, vicious cycle of being subject to extremely dangerous conditions whilst also struggling to get the help they need to leave homelessness behind."
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