By Natalie Bloomer and Samir Jeraj

The Home Office has suffered a defeat in the courts today over its policy of detaining and deporting EU rough sleepers.

In 2016, the Home Office introduced new rules which meant that rough sleeping was to be considered an 'abuse' or 'misuse' of an EU citizens' right to freedom of movement.

Campaigners believe this led to hundreds of homeless EU citizens being picked up by immigration officers and removed from the country.

The High Court today found that the policy was unlawful and that sleeping rough does not constitute an abuse of EU free movement rights.

The case, which was brought by the Public Interest Law Unit (PILU) and North East London Migrant Action (NELMA), is one of several legal battles against Theresa May's 'hostile environment'.

"'This judgment is a victory for all those who believe that homeless people are human beings with rights rather than simply an eyesore to be eliminated," a spokesperson for NELMA said.

"This ruling should make Theresa May's government think again before introducing policies on immigration that criminalise some of the most vulnerable people in our society." 

A spokesperson for the Home Office said:

"We are disappointed by today's judgment. However, we respect the court's findings and will not be appealing.  We will consider carefully what steps are necessary to ensure we reflect the judgment in future enforcement."