There are currently no legal protections for people sleeping rough in England during severe weather – the provision of shelter is not a statutory duty, even when conditions are life threatening. However, there is a humanitarian obligation on local authorities to do all they can to prevent deaths on the streets, and for their partners and the public to support these efforts.

There is no single definition of severe weather – any conditions that increase the risk of harm to people sleeping rough can be classed as severe. This includes extreme cold, wind, snow and rain.

The SWEP provision is triggered in Swindon when the temperature is forecast at zero degrees or below for three days or more. This means that anyone who is rough sleeping or homeless is offered accommodation during the SWEP period, regardless of any statutory duty owed.