Police admit eviction of homeless people who had tents destroyed was unlawful

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Original article by at OpenDemocracy republished under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

Met chief Mark Rowley has apologised for the incident outside a London hospital in November

Met Police commissioner Mark Rowley has apologised for unlawfully ordering people sleeping rough to move from outside a hospital during an operation that also saw their tents destroyed.

The eviction in central London, first covered by openDemocracy, sparked outrage when videos showed tents being thrown into the back of a bin lorry by officers working for Camden Council.

It happened in November, days after disgraced former home secretary Suella Braverman declared homelessness was a “lifestyle choice” and was reported to be planning a crackdown on tents in urban areas.

Anthony Sinclair was arrested after refusing to leave the area and while in custody had all of his belongings and his tent binned. Backed by human rights campaign group Liberty and outreach workers at Streets Kitchen, Sinclair threatened legal action against the Met chief on the grounds that dispersal orders should not prevent people from accessing the place where they live. Liberty also said the actions of police breached his human rights and put him and others at risk of harm.

Now, in a letter, Rowley’s lawyers have stated: “The commissioner accepts that the decisions were unlawful in the circumstances, in particular as regards the direction for your client to leave a place where he had been living for some time.”

The ‘section 35’ dispersal order was issued by the Met after concerns from University College Hospital (UCH) about anti-social behaviour from people living in the tents outside. The landmark case could now stop such orders being used against people experiencing homelessness who have been in the same area for an extended period of time.

Sinclair said: “The treatment that I and others received at the hands of police officers was inhumane.

“I was arrested for refusing to leave the place where I had been living for eight months, and while I was held for six hours in custody, my tent and other belongings were taken away and destroyed.

“I am glad to see this admission from the police that this was wrong, and I hope that no-one in the future receives the treatment that I did.”

The Met Police will also discuss compensation with Sinclair.

Elodie Berland, Streets Kitchen co-ordinator, said: “We were shocked, though not surprised, to witness the Metropolitan Police and Camden Council’s cruel actions attacking those at perhaps the lowest points of their lives experiencing homelessness.

“This was not an isolated incident where powers were used unlawfully to disperse people and destroy their possessions. This is sadly something we witness regularly.

“The Met’s acknowledgment that they indeed acted unlawfully and their apology are certainly a step in the right direction and highlights the need to always be observant and resist such cruel acts whenever they occur anywhere. Being homeless is not a crime – the fact that it exists should be.”

Camden’s Labour council initially said it had had “no role in enforcing this eviction” but, after looking into the matter further, vowed to carry out an “urgent investigation”. Its acting leader Pat Callaghan said at the time she was “deeply concerned” by the videos.

Liberty lawyer Lana Adamou said: “We all have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, whatever our circumstances. But increasingly, people living on the streets are being subject to unfair and degrading treatment by police, putting them at risk of harm.

“This government is criminalising poverty and homelessness, and police are misusing powers they have been given such as dispersal orders as a short-term fix to remove people from an area, instead of providing support or dealing with the root causes of these issues.

“We’re glad to see the police admit that their officers should not have treated our client or the other people affected in this way and that our client’s rights were breached, and we welcome the commissioner’s apology. This sends a clear message that dispersal orders should not be used against people living on the streets in this way.”

In their letter, Rowley’s lawyers said: “The MPS will be taking actions to ensure that in future, proper consideration is given to whether the Part 3 dispersals powers are appropriate for homeless persons.”

Chief superintendent Andy Carter, who is responsible for policing in Camden, said: “We don’t underestimate the impact of this incident on the man and will be meeting him to apologise in person, and listen to any views he might have.

“My officers will be taking part in further legal training around use of their dispersal powers so that we can ensure this does not happen again and that we use this tactic responsibly.”

Original article by at OpenDemocracy republished under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence

Continue ReadingPolice admit eviction of homeless people who had tents destroyed was unlawful

Homeless people urinated on and attacked with bricks, shocking survey shows

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https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/homeless-people-urinated-and-attacked-bricks-shocking-survey-shows

Person sleeping rough in a doorway, February 7, 2017

SHOCKING levels of violence and abuse are being faced by homeless people, a new survey finds.

Rough sleepers are frequently attacked, urinated on, verbally abused and have bricks and beer cans thrown at them, according to homelessness charity Crisis.

The charity spoke to 156 people in late summer who had rough sleeping experience within the last two years.

It found that 90 per cent of them had experienced some form of violence or abuse and 51 per cent had been physically attacked.

Three-quarters cruelly had items stolen, while 72 per cent had suffered verbal abuse or harassment.

More than half (53 per cent) had something thrown at them, examples given included bricks and beer cans.

More than a quarter had been racially abused, harassed or attacked (27 per cent), while almost a fifth (18 per cent) had been urinated on.

Nine of those who responded said they had been sexually assaulted.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/homeless-people-urinated-and-attacked-bricks-shocking-survey-shows

Continue ReadingHomeless people urinated on and attacked with bricks, shocking survey shows

Autumn Statement: Greens offer 10-point plan of distinctive tax and spend policies to create a fairer, greener society

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Image of the Green Party's Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.
Image of the Green Party’s Carla Denyer on BBC Question Time.

Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer has outlined a 10-point plan of distinctive tax and spend policies aimed at delivering a fairer, greener country. She will dismiss the chancellor’s Autumn Statement, saying it will be “another failed opportunity to end the cost-of-living crisis, tackle the climate crisis and restore crumbling public services on which we all rely.”    

Denyer said: 

“Our 10-point plan identifies around £30 billion of additional funds that would be available from simply rebalancing the tax system so that the super-rich pay their fair share and both people and planet benefit.”  

“The extra revenue raised would enable the government to pay NHS staff an inflation-matching pay award, increase access to NHS dentists, increase Universal Credit, abolish the two-child benefit cap, improve bus services and help small businesses take advantage of the opportunities offered by greening the economy. 

“Instead, the chancellor’s Autumn Statement will be another failed opportunity to end the cost-of-living crisis, tackle the climate crisis or restore crumbling public services. It’s clear that as the Tories continue to languish in the polls, Jeremy Hunt has more interest in electoral gimmickry that he has in creating a fairer and greener country.”  

The Green Party’s 10-point plan would:   

  • Restore the public health budget by increasing spending by £1.4 billion  
  • Immediately increase NHS spending by £8 billion, to ensure NHS staff can be paid an inflation matching pay award
  • Meet the Government’s current plan to increase access to NHS dentists by increasing spending 50 per cent – £1.5 billion – of the total NHS dentistry budget
  • End the rise in homelessness caused by the cap on Local Housing Allowances at a cost of £700 million
  • Increase Universal Credit by £40 per week at a cost of £9bn  
  • Abolish the two-child benefit cap to reduce poverty for some of the most vulnerable children in the country by increasing the welfare budget by £1.3 billion
  • Provide the necessary powers and funding to rural local authorities to take back control of bus services so they can increase routes and service frequencies at a cost of £3bn
  • Turn ISAs green by linking their tax exemptions to investments in green bonds 
  • Invest an additional £3billion in Green Transition Grants for small businesses to help them prepare for and take advantage of the opportunities offered by greening the economy 
  • Rebalance the tax system to raise an extra £30 billion through changes to Capital Gains Tax, National Insurance and the abolition of “non dom status” which would pay for the proposed measures 

Championing the Green’s alternative Autumn Statement, Carla Denyer said: 

“These fairer, greener alternatives give just a flavour of what could be done if we had a Government willing to tackle the long-term crises we face. They would start to remove the fundamental injustice that means that wealthier people who own more assets often see a lower effective tax rate than less well-off people. 

“Everyone deserves easy access to a dentist, improved public health, properly paid and supported doctors and nurses working with decent facilities, reduced poverty and homelessness, and accessible public transport.  

“There is enough money in the economy to make our country fairer and greener. What is lacking is the political will to change priorities. And Starmer’s official opposition seems no more ready to offer this than the Government is. That is why we so desperately need more Greens in Parliament to make the case for the common-sense changes that can deliver a fairer greener country.” 

Continue ReadingAutumn Statement: Greens offer 10-point plan of distinctive tax and spend policies to create a fairer, greener society

Morning Star: Rising homelessness is the Tories’ fault – not a ‘lifestyle choice’

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Image quoting Suella 'Sue-Ellen' Braverman reads ‘Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati’.
Image quoting Suella ‘Sue-Ellen’ Braverman reads ‘Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati’.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/rising-homelessness-tories-fault-not-lifestyle-choice

SUELLA BRAVERMAN’S attack on the homeless plumbs new depths from a minister already known for kicking downwards.

It combines a xenophobic jibe at foreigners with brazen victim-blaming, ludicrously terming rough sleeping a “lifestyle choice” when the rise in homelessness is demonstrably the fault of the Conservative government.

The Home Secretary knows that the homelessness crisis cannot be swept under the carpet.

Rough sleeping has risen by 74 per cent since 2010, according to the government’s own figures. The rapid provision of safe accommodation to thousands of homeless people during the pandemic showed rough sleeping can be ended almost overnight where there is the political will: but as soon as the lockdowns passed the will disappeared, and a 26 per cent rise in rough sleeping last year alone points to the devastating impact of the cost-of-living crisis. Homeless Link CEO Rick Henderson pointed to the causes at the start of the year: “A shortage of affordable housing, an often punitive welfare system and increasingly stretched health services.”

The results are visible everywhere. It is now rare to take a journey in one of our larger cities without encountering beggars. This is an indictment of 13 years of Tory rule.

https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/rising-homelessness-tories-fault-not-lifestyle-choice

Continue ReadingMorning Star: Rising homelessness is the Tories’ fault – not a ‘lifestyle choice’