ShineALight https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/24401/all cached version 20/06/2018 21:45:18 en Inquest jury says death of Rashan Charles was an accident https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-verdict-accidental-death <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Police failure to admit any responsibility for death of young black Londoner will set back community relations&nbsp;“for generations”&nbsp;family says.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A.BX47braced_IDno-frame.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="BX47 restrains Rashan Charles at around 01.40 Saturday 22 July 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A.BX47braced_IDno-frame.jpg" alt="" title="BX47 restrains Rashan Charles at around 01.40 Saturday 22 July 2017" width="460" height="430" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BX47 restrains Rashan Charles at around 01.40 Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p><p>An inquest jury found today that the death of young black Londoner Rashan Charles was an accident caused by deliberate human action by Rashan himself, a police officer and a civilian bystander.</p><p>Their actions unexpectedly and inadvertently led to&nbsp;<span>Rashan’s</span>&nbsp;death, the jury said.</p><p>The coroner, Mary Hassell, in her directions to the jury, did not leave open the possibility of a more critical conclusion such as neglect or unlawful killing, saying she did not believe&nbsp;<span>“</span><span>a reasonable jury could see this</span><span>”.</span></p><p><span>The jury gave a verdict of accidental death with a narrative that found:</span></p><ul><li><span><span>Rashan had concealed a package in his mouth and resisted during arrest. The police officer, known as BX47, brought Rashan to the ground through&nbsp;</span></span><span>“</span><span>justified use of force</span><span>”</span><span>.</span></li><li><span><br /></span></li><li><span>Officer BX47 failed to follow police procedure for when someone is not breathing or is suspected of swallowing drugs.</span></li><li><span><br /></span></li><li><span>The officer failed to manage the impact of the civilian bystander known by the cypher Witness 1.</span></li><li><span><br /></span></li><li><p><span>BX47</span><span>&nbsp;called for police assistance&nbsp;</span><span><em>before</em> calling for an ambulance. When he found the line busy, he failed to use his radio’s override function to summon the ambulance. <br /></span></p></li><li><p><span>The jury said the omissions did not make a difference to Rashan</span><span><span>’s</span> death. </span><span>“Rashan</span><span><span>’s life was not salvageable at a point prior to which the medical emergency was readily identifiable.</span></span><span>”</span><span><span>&nbsp;</span></span></p></li><li><span>The cause of death was cardiac arrest caused by obstruction of the airway by a foreign body during a period of restraint, the jury said. Rashan died on 22 July&nbsp;2017 at the Yours Locally convenience store on Kingsland High Road in Hackney, East London. (Not in hospital, as the police had claimed).</span></li></ul><p>The jury added that none of the actions taken by the police medic BX48 or paramedics contributed to Rashan’s death.</p><h2><span>Community relations set back by generations&nbsp;</span></h2><p><span>Rashan’s great uncle Rod Charles, who had 30 years experience in the Metropolitan Police before retiring at the rank of Chief Inspector four years ago, said the inquest process had been&nbsp;</span><span>“a farce</span><span>”, and it was clear that</span><span>&nbsp;BX47&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>had a shocking night on the 22&nbsp;July 2017, with fatal consequences</span><span>”</span><span>.</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ROD_CHARLES.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rod Charles, speaking to reporters outside St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ROD_CHARLES.JPG" alt="" title="Rod Charles, speaking to reporters outside St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rod Charles, speaking to reporters outside St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)</span></span></span><br /></span></p><p><span>Rod Charles</span><span>&nbsp;challenged the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/police-rashan-charles-restraint">independence of two&nbsp;</a></span><span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/police-rashan-charles-restraint">expert witnesses</a>, instructed by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC),</span><span>&nbsp;who testified on police training and BX47</span><span>’s</span><span>&nbsp;use of force. Charles said that with 75 years combined service to the Metropolitan Police between them,&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>they still have an </span><span>umbilical cord to the Met</span><span>”.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>The Charles family <a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/rashan-charles-conclusion">issued a statement</a> through the charity INQUEST. “Rashan Charles was a young father and an integral part of his family. He is greatly missed by all of us,</span><span>”</span><span>&nbsp;t</span><span>hey said.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>We believe the IOPC investigation was flawed from the outset. We were left out of key decisions, evidence was excluded, police worn video missing and time frames manipulated. This felt to be a predetermined process by the IOPC, the Metropolitan police and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service).</span><span>”</span></p><p><span>They said&nbsp;</span><span>submissions by the family barrister Jude Bunting&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>were overturned in court and evidence dismissed</span><span>”.</span></p><p><span>The Charles family paid respect to the jury&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>who had to make a decision based on the limited evidence and confines put upon them.</span><span>”</span><span>&nbsp;About the two expert witnesses with 75 years combined service in the Met,&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>and one still serving</span><span>”, they said:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>This appears to us neither objective, independent or impartial.</span><span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>The family went on:&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>The police projected a criminal caricature of Rashan even after his death. This successfully served to detract from the events of 22nd July 2017. We are not adversaries of the police. This is about the conduct of individual police officers. However, the absence of admission of any responsibility does not stall community relations by weeks or years, but sets it back generations.&nbsp;This part of the flawed system is over, our work to receive answers continues.”</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/pancras_coroner_court18JUNE2018rebecca3_1.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/pancras_coroner_court18JUNE2018rebecca3_1.JPG" alt="" title="St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)</span></span></span><br /></span></p><p>The jury at St Pancras Coroner’s Court had heard eight days of evidence over two weeks from witnesses, police officers and experts on police safety training.&nbsp;The jury heard how, in Hackney, East London, in the early hours of Saturday 22 July last year, a police officer chased <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan&nbsp;</a><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">into a convenience store</a>,&nbsp;grabbed him from behind, threw him to the ground and restrained him. A man described by the police as a&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">“member of the public”&nbsp;</a>joined in the restraint, helping to handcuff Rashan as he lay limp and face down on the floor.</p><p><span>The&nbsp;</span><span>jury </span><span>viewed footage </span><span>captured&nbsp;by the shop’s CCTV cameras and the officer’s body-worn camera. </span><span>The officer and the second man&nbsp;were known in court as BX47 and Witness 1, the coroner Mary Hassell&nbsp;having&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/rashan-charles-pir">granted both men anonymity</a><span>&nbsp;in a ruling last November.&nbsp;</span></p><p>BX47 was among highly trained Metropolitan police officers from the Territorial Support Group (TSG) on overnight patrol in three carriers in Hackney. Local police had briefed them about individuals on their wanted list.&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">Rashan Charles was&nbsp;<em>not</em>&nbsp;one of them</a>, BX47 said on Day Two of the inquest, Tuesday 5 June 2018.&nbsp;</p><p>Police officers told the court they noticed the car in which Rashan was a passenger because the driver had used his indicator lights indecisively and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-police-witness-evidence">his eyes “lit up”</a> when he spotted the police vehicle. Rashan got out of the car and two officers pursued him, BX47 catching up with him in the Yours Locally store on Kingsland Road.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="364" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles (Family)</span></span></span></p><p>In <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">footage shown many times in court</a>, BX47 can be seen grabbing Rashan from behind, getting him in a neck hold, throwing him to the floor, and subjecting him to a prolonged restraint. The man described as a “member of the public” and known in court as Witness 1 can be seen joining the restraint, getting astride Rashan, pinning him down. </p><p>Working together, Witness 1 and BX47 handcuff Rashan, who is face down on the floor and, by now, completely still. Witness 1 takes Rashan’s limp right hand and passes it for BX47 to apply handcuffs. He remains kneeling on Rashan’s limp body.</p><p>Once Rashan is cuffed, Witness 1 can be heard on the police body worn camera footage saying: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">“I’m a first aider. I’m trying to help you stay breathing.”</a></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimageanon.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimageanon.jpg" alt="" title="Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017" width="460" height="417" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p><p>Under questioning from the family<span>’s</span><span>&nbsp;lawyer, </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">Jude Bunting, on Day Two</a><span>, BX47 maintained that he thought Rashan had something in his mouth or was attempting to put something in his mouth. Bunting reminded him that suspected swallowing of concealed drugs should be considered a medical emergency, so why did he not treat Rashan as a medical emergency?</span></p><p>BX47 replied: “Not initially. There was a lot going on. I was trying to look at what the situation was.”</p><p>Both Witness 1 and BX47 told the court that neither man had met the other before the fatal incident. O<span>n Day Three, W</span><span>itness 1 said repeatedly that BX47 had seemed in shock. Under questioning from Bunting, he said:&nbsp;</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>“I feel 47 was not one hundred per cent. He was tired.&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">He was not himself</a>.”</span></p><p>People who had been inside the convenience store<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-police-witness-evidence">&nbsp;</a><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-police-witness-evidence">told the inquest how Rashan was struggling to breathe</a> and choking as the two men restrained him. Counsel for BX47, Neil Saunders, asked those witnesses repeatedly if what they saw and heard really&nbsp;<em>were&nbsp;</em>signs of choking, which he specified as&nbsp;“coughing” or “gasping for breath”. </p><p>Later, Jasmeet Soar, an intensive care consultant, told the inquest: <a href="http://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/medic-gives-evidence-at-rashan-charles-inquest-1-5568270">“It’s not always obvious.”</a> He said the way BX47 tackled Rashan to the ground “clearly contributed” to the packet getting lodged in his windpipe.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMcrop2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Charles and daughter (Family)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMcrop2.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Charles and daughter (Family)" width="216" height="387" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles and daughter (Family)</span></span></span>On footage from his own body worn camera, BX47 can be heard, several minutes into the restraint, and after Rashan has become limp, making two calls. On the first he says: “More to my location quick, back of the shop.” Then he makes a second call and asks for the London Ambulance Service.&nbsp;</p><p>Rashan Charles was the eldest of seven siblings and, according to his family, close to his mother and his grandmother who had expected to see him on Sunday 23 July; she was going to show him how to cook stewed chicken. </p><p>Rashan got on extremely well with his 82 year old great grandfather, had plans to visit him and other family members in Grenada. Rashan’s family said he was a talented footballer, well liked by his teachers, and a loving father to his daughter who was four months shy of her second birthday when he died. She still asks for him, the family said.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>. Additional reporting by Annissa Warsame.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/police-rashan-charles-restraint">Did police officer involved in Rashan restraint do what he was trained to do?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-encounters-with-state-services">Rashan Charles, encounters with police and support services</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-police-witness-evidence">Rashan Charles inquest: ‘He went from being arrested to clearly struggling and needing help’ </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">‘I’m a first aider’ said man who helped restrain and handcuff Rashan</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">‘My concern was his safety’ Police officer on Rashan Charles restraint</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan Charles: Inquest into death after restraint by police officer and ‘member of the public’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/clare-sambrook/police-restraint-of-rashan-charles-hackney-ipcc">On the lethal restraint of young black Londoner, Rashan Charles</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashan-charles-rashman">Rashman: Police watchdog to investigate lethal restraint of young black man in Hackney</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 20 Jun 2018 16:00:28 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 118483 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Did police officer involved in Rashan restraint do what he was trained to do? https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/police-rashan-charles-restraint <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Police officers’ use of force must be Proportionate to the threat, Lawful, Accountable and Necessary. Inquest hears expert testimony on Days Six and Seven.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A.BX47braced_IDno-frame_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Officer BX47 restrains Rashan Charles, Saturday 22 July, 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A.BX47braced_IDno-frame_0.jpg" alt="" title="Officer BX47 restrains Rashan Charles, Saturday 22 July, 2017" width="460" height="430" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Officer BX47 restrains Rashan Charles, Saturday 22 July, 2017</span></span></span><br /></span></p><p>The inquest into the death of Rashan Charles, which involved restraint, heard expert evidence last week on police use of force.</p> <p>Both expert witnesses, Ian Read and Martin Graves, are retired Metropolitan Police officers, each with more than 30 years’ experience. They testified on the types of permitted restraints, how they are used and in what circumstances. </p><p>Read said that he did not know the officer (known as BX47) who restrained Rashan, but he had been present at BX47’s training ten years ago.</p><p>Both Read and Graves said they knew Rod Charles, Rashan’s great uncle, who retired as a chief inspector four years ago after 30 years’ service with the Metropolitan Police.</p><p>The expert evidence ran over two days, from mid-afternoon on Tuesday 12 Juneinto Wednesday 13 June, Days Six and Seven of the inquest. </p><p>Rashan Charles died after being restrained last summer by the police officer BX47 and a man described as a “member of the public” in a convenience store in Hackney, east London. The coroner granted both men anonymity and ruled they should be known in court as BX47 and Witness 1. A second officer, who arrived in the restraint’s&nbsp;final moments and administered CPR is known as BX48.</p><h2>What the jury saw and heard</h2><p>CCTV and police body worn camera footage played in court showed BX47 use force to take Rashan to the ground. Then, BX47 attempts to retrieve something from Rashan’s mouth. Rashan is still moving at this stage, his legs kicking. On BX47’s body worn camera footage, the officer is heard shouting: “Spit it out, spit it out.”</p><p>Immediately after this, there is a muffled sound from Rashan. The officer repeats the command “Spit it out” several times. Then a second voice is heard offering “a hand”. This is Witness 1. He kneels down, joins in the restraint, pinning Rashan down. BX47 directs Witness 1 to take Rashan’s hand. Witness 1 tells Rashan, “Just relax, it’s alright” and “I’m not going to hurt you”. </p><p>Working together, the men handcuff Rashan, whose body appears limp. Once the cuffs are on, BX47 says: “Turn him on his side”. Then, “He’s got something in his mouth.” </p><p>When Rashan is turned onto his side, Witness 1 looks to be holding him down while BX47 kneels beside him. There is more dialogue and noise from the shop. Officer BX47 prods Rashan’s stomach and puts his head to Rashan’s mouth. BX47 says: “I think he swallowed something.”</p><p>When BX48 arrives, BX47 tells her: “He may have swallowed something.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimageanon_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Officer BX47 and Witness 1 handcuff Rashan Charles"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimageanon_0.jpg" alt="" title="Officer BX47 and Witness 1 handcuff Rashan Charles" width="460" height="417" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Officer BX47 and Witness 1 handcuff Rashan Charles</span></span></span></p><h2>“Proportionate, Lawful, Accountable and Necessary”</h2><p>Read and Graves gave evidence on the types of restraint most often used by police officers, what they are taught during training and what training might apply in the case of Rashan Charles. </p><p>Ian Read, who delivers training to the Metropolitan Police Service and forces across the country, and spent 36 years in the Met, told the court that all new recruits undergo a five-day training course on the “use of force” powers allowed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Officers receive ongoing and refresher training, two days a year.</p><p>Use of force must be Proportionate (to the threat), Lawful, Accountable and Necessary, Read said, referring to the PLAN model.</p><p>Officers learn how to use different types of restraint safely, what to do if someone is suspected of swallowing drugs or choking, and how to safely detain someone who is resisting arrest, he said. Training films feature restraint risks such as positional asphyxia, and risks related to the use of neck holds and handcuffs.</p><p>The film called “Consideration for safe restraint” shows that if a person falls to the ground, officers must beware of actions that could interfere with breathing and cause positional asphyxia, Read explained. If someone is on the ground, officers are taught to handcuff them, put them on their side, then try to get them to sitting or standing position.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/pancras_coroner_court18JUNE2018rebecca3_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/pancras_coroner_court18JUNE2018rebecca3_0.JPG" alt="" title="St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>St Pancras Coroner’s Court (Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi)</span></span></span></p><p>Read said that until recently officers were trained in forcible mouth searching, when someone is suspected of hiding drugs. He confirmed when asked that the officer’s first aim would be to “obtain evidence”. Coroner Mary Hassell asked if the officer should consider “the welfare of the detainee”. </p><p>Yes, Read replied, officers must be aware of the risk of swallowing and choking.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">An officer must be able to justify any use of force</p><p>During questioning Read said that officers may use techniques not covered in their training to retrieve drugs from a person’s mouth. “You can never say never,” he said; the rule is that an officer must be able to justify any use of force.</p><p>The court heard that after Rashan’s death the Metropolitan Police suspended the practice of mouth searching, and that the Met’s part-time medical director Dr Meng Aw-Yong conducted a review and delivered his draft report to senior police officers in June.</p><p>The coroner asked Read what happens when a police officer is in an intense situation and there isn’t time to think through the use of force PLAN model — proportionate, lawful, accountable, necessary? What do you teach in training about how to behave in those situations? the coroner asked.</p><h2>Watch out for signs of a medical emergency</h2><p>Read replied that officers are trained in the “national decision making model” to constantly reassess and re-evaluate a situation and, if necessary, reduce or increase the level of force. </p><p>He added that an officer should watch for signs of a medical emergency, noting a detained person’s pallor, listening if they say they can’t breathe, looking out for signs of retching or choking. </p><p>The coroner asked what should an officer do if they spot a medical emergency during use of force? </p><p>When someone shows signs of being unwell — whether coughing, spluttering, colour changing, hands going up — an officer trained in first aid should check for some form of response, Read said. Questions to think about include: Are they alert? Do they respond to my voice? Check the airway. Check for breathing. Check mouth, tilt head back and carry out a breathing check for 10 seconds.</p> <p>If the person detained is unresponsive and breathing, he said, they must be put into the recovery position. </p><p>If the person is unresponsive and <em>not</em> breathing, the officer should start CPR, do chest compressions. </p><p>The coroner asked, what if you have someone in handcuffs? </p><p>Read said that it was up to the officer “to make the decision” and assess the level of threat posed by the detained person. </p><p>The coroner asked: What do you teach about members of the public getting involved?&nbsp;</p><p>Read said that wasn’t taught in officer safety, but a first aider “can be used”. “It depends on the situation,” he said. </p><p>(On Day Three the inquest heard that Witness 1, the man who helped restrain and handcuff Rashan, had done one day’s first aid training six years ago, and that he told BX47 and Rashan: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">“I’m a first aider.”</a>)</p><p>The coroner asked whether it was permissible to use a member of the public during a restraint. Read said it was. </p><p>Evidence from the second police training expert, Martin Graves, was similar to Read’s. Graves said he retired from the Metropolitan Police in 2012 after 31 years’ service, and is an expert witness in relation to use of force, officer safety policy and training.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It’s “damn near impossible to conduct a forced mouth search on your own”</p> <p>He told the court that a forced mouth search was a difficult tactic, best carried out as part of a team, and it was “damn near impossible to conduct a forced mouth search on your own”. </p><p>So, the coroner asked, was he critical of BX47’s actions? </p><p>Graves replied: “I wouldn’t be critical of him attempting it. He did what he could with the tools that he had available to him at the time.” Graves said BX47 went from arrest to duty of care towards Rashan. </p><p>Asked about BX47’s failure to call an ambulance immediately,&nbsp;Graves&nbsp;agreed that it should have been done sooner. The effects of stress should be considered, he said. BX47 had exerted himself chasing Rashan, he was panting, and skills can diminish quickly if the effects of stress kick in.&nbsp;</p><h2>Handcuffs, ambulance, choking, Witness 1</h2> <p>Ian Read said he believed that overall BX47 had behaved in a way consistent with officer safety training. </p><p>The coroner asked Read to talk the jury through the CCTV and police body worn camera footage of the restraint. She asked whether he saw anything in BX47’s behavior that was inconsistent with training he would have received. Read replied that he did not. </p><p>When questioned further Read conceded that he would have done certain things differently. </p><p>In CCTV footage, after BX47 throws Rashan to the floor, landing on top of him, Rashan’s legs are first kicking, then completely still. The coroner asked Read what police officer safety training has to say about responding to someone who is “thrashing, then quiet”. </p><p>Read said there was no specific teaching on leg movement. His concern would be about Rashan’s behaviour and that he had suddenly gone quiet. You would check his breathing, check he is responsive, talk to him, Read said. </p><p>What if he is not responsive but is breathing? the coroner asked. Then first aid would kick in and you could put him into recovery position, Read said, adding: “I would consider handcuff removal.”</p><p>He said it would depend on the situation and the officer’s perception of what was happening. If someone was resisting, you wouldn’t want to take the handcuffs off.</p><p>(On CCTV footage shown in court, Rashan appears limp and still even as BX47 and Witness 1 handcuff him. He remains in handcuffs up until BX48 arrives, takes them off and administers CPR.)&nbsp;</p><h2>Delay in calling for an ambulance</h2><p>What happens here, said the coroner, is that BX47 calls for assistance, and <em>then</em> he calls for an ambulance. The coroner asked Read if it would it be more consistent with training to call an ambulance straight away. He replied: “Yes”. </p><p>On police body worn camera footage, shortly after handcuffing Rashan with Witness 1, BX47 is heard calling for assistance: “More to my location quick, back of the shop”, he says. Rashan’s body is unresponsive, limp. His eyes are wide. </p><p>The coroner asked Read again, at that stage should BX47 have called for an ambulance. Read said yes. At that point it is a medical emergency, he added.</p><p>The coroner asked Read what an officer should do if a detained person is quiet but believed to be conscious. Read replied that if there was any doubt it should be classed as a medical emergency, which means calling an ambulance. </p><p>On the footage shown in court Witness 1 holds Rashan down and kneels on him right up until BX48 arrives. Read told the court that he probably would have asked Witness 1 to move after the handcuffs went on. </p><p>The coroner asked Read to consider the whole episode and what he might highlight during a training session. Read said the main indicators to note would be the muffled “glug” sound Rashan makes, before the handcuffs go on and Rashan’s wide staring eyes. Reassess the situation after the handcuffs are on, he said. </p><p>Read was reluctant to criticise BX47. It’s&nbsp;easy to speak with hindsight and the aid of the video footage, he said, and in a stressful situation, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. </p><h2>Did officer’s actions breach a duty of care?</h2> <p>Jude Bunting, lawyer for Rashan’s mother and grandmother, questioned Read on BX47’s duty of care to Rashan. </p><p>Wasn’t there enough material in police officer safety training for BX47 to have followed this and arrested Rashan safely? BX47 could have communicated with his colleagues earlier, Bunting said. He could have called out to Rashan as he entered the shop.&nbsp;</p><p>Read accepted the importance of communication when trying to control a suspect. In BX47’s situation, before using force he would have said to Rashan: “Stop, stay there!”</p><p>Like Graves, Read was reluctant to criticize BX47. Reality was different to training and restraint could be challenging, he said.</p> <p>Bunting questioned Read on BX47’s behavior versus what was taught around use of force in training. Referring to the police officer safety training manual, parts of which Read wrote, Bunting highlighted several types of restraint available to BX47 that did not involve a neck hold. </p><p>Read said the restraint used depended on the officer, and the officer must be able to justify any use of force.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Charles (Family)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM_2.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Charles (Family)" width="460" height="364" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles (Family)</span></span></span></p><h2>Questions interrupted</h2><p>Bunting took Read step by step through BX47’s actions, presenting alternative ways to arrest someone. Bunting asked: Might BX47 have restrained Rashan without taking him to the ground?&nbsp;</p><p>Read didn’t answer directly. He said it was very difficult to control someone standing and said again that undertaking a restraint alone was challenging. </p><p>Bunting’s questions about BX47’s actions were repeatedly met with sideways answers. The coroner Mary Hassell repeatedly interrupted, asking Bunting to move on.</p><h2>Search by mouth, a multi-officer tactic</h2><p>Bunting raised other aspects of BX47’s training, included the use of “search by mouth”. Read confirmed that this was a multi-officer tactic because of the potential risks. One officer should act as a safety officer, standing back and monitoring for signs, he said. Officers are drilled on the risks, particularly choking, and schooled on the appropriate response. </p><p>Bunting finished questioning the witness by asking if Read felt that BX47 had breached a duty of care to Rashan at any time during the restraint, in the way that he monitored Rashan after the cuffs went on, and in the delay in calling an ambulance?</p><p>Read replied that he didn’t think BX47 had breached any duty of care. Read said: “It could have been done better in hindsight. From what I have seen and what I have heard he has tried to look after Rashan.” </p><p>Martin Graves gave a similar answer: he didn’t think BX47 had breached any duty of care towards Rashan. </p><h2>Witnesses questioned on reality versus simulated training</h2> <p>Neil Saunders, counsel for police officers BX47 and BX48, suggested to Read that officer safety training covered split-second decision-making, which involved assessing threats posed by someone detained. </p><p>He asked Read what level of risk BX47 faced on 22 July in an area with “gang related violence”, having spotted a hired vehicle and someone who had run off? Read said there was a high risk “because of the area”. </p><p>Saunders suggested that officers know that not everything in training is like real life, and when training isn’t followed officers must explain why. Read agreed. </p><p>Saunders said initial control and restraint was a “fluid, dynamic process” and a suspect was easiest controlled on the ground. Read agreed. Saunders took Read through the officer safety training manual and suggested that BX47 stuck to training by turning Rashan on to his side and asking him to spit out whatever was in his mouth.&nbsp; </p><p>He suggested that officer training taught “classic signs of choking”, which he described as coughing, spluttering, complaining, and someone talkative and then suddenly quiet. Read confirmed this.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Hackney “plagued” by a summer of “shootings and stabbings”</p><p>John Beggs QC, counsel for the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, questioned Read on the difficulties of simulating real experiences during training. He suggested that in some parts of the real world an officer is in “constant danger from others” and that risks prevail up until the moment an officer has control. Beggs suggested that people are unpredictable and it can be frightening as an officer working alone. He said if all members of the public complied with arrest you would be out of a job. Read agreed with Beggs’s comments. </p><p>Beggs suggested to Read that last year Hackney had been “plagued” by a summer of “shootings and stabbings”. These were real dangers for which no officer can prepare, he suggested. Read agreed. </p><p>Beggs said it needed to be put bluntly that Rashan had decamped from a “suspicious vehicle”, <em>sprinted off</em> and resisted arrest. He suggested the CCTV footage showed Rashan “<em>determined to swallow</em> quite a large package of materials”. Beggs continued that the reality is that until BX47 has Rashan is in handcuffs, he cannot be sure there isn’t a weapon on his person. Read accepted all this. </p><p>Beggs suggested that if an officer was to be judged by Bunting’s “text book of perfection” then “very few would pass muster”. Read agreed. Read said that a police officer is always in danger of offenders carrying weapons.</p><h2>“What is the point of police training?”</h2> <p>After nearly two days of questions from the coroner and lawyers, the jury had their own questions for Ian Read. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMslim-crop_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Charles with daughter (Family)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMslim-crop_2.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Charles with daughter (Family)" width="240" height="753" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles with daughter (Family)</span></span></span>One question referred to the repeated comments made about reality versus training and how difficult it is for officers to prepare for real life situations. A jury member wanted to know, “What then is the aim of the training?” </p><p>Read replied that the aim is to protect the public and protect officers. He said they tried to make training realistic but there were limits on how realistic you could make a restraint situation. We have to train 28,000 officers, he added. </p><p>Another question was about the CCTV footage where BX47 takes Rashan to the ground. The jury member thought it looked like BX47 had Rashan in a headlock, was that a recognised tactic? </p><p>Read said the Met doesn’t specifically teach headlocks, though officers might practise it. Read said what’s emphasised in training is the dangers of restraining around the neck. </p><p>Another jury question: Is there anything to prepare an officer for when a suspect stops running and is cornered?</p><p>Read replied that it depended on the circumstances. </p><p>The jury also had questions for Martin Graves. They wanted to know, given the evidence heard about dangers in Hackney, was there anything in the training manual that indicates an officer should not chase after suspects on their own?</p><p>Graves said it is common to split from colleagues. Officers should make a dynamic risk assessment of the circumstances and make their decision. </p><p>During questioning Graves had referred to the possible effect of stress on BX47’s decision-making. The jury wanted to know if there was anything in the training manual to help officers deal with stressful situations in a rational way. </p><p>Graves said officers are trained to make rational decisions, but it’s impossible to deal with such high levels of stress during a pressured situation. </p><p>The jury’s verdict is expected today.&nbsp;</p><p><span><br /></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-encounters-with-state-services">Rashan Charles, encounters with police and support services</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-police-witness-evidence">Rashan Charles inquest: ‘He went from being arrested to clearly struggling and needing help’ </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">‘I’m a first aider’ said man who helped restrain and handcuff Rashan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">‘My concern was his safety’ Police officer on Rashan Charles restraint</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan Charles: Inquest into death after restraint by police officer and ‘member of the public’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 20 Jun 2018 12:50:57 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 118497 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rashan Charles, encounters with police and support services https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-encounters-with-state-services <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rashan’s final visits to his GP and encounters with the police and social services. Day Six of the inquest into the death of a young Londoner.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHANPORTRAITSDAY1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHANPORTRAITSDAY1.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="412" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles</span></span></span></p><p>On Tuesday 12 June, Day Six of the inquest, the jury was given a brief, potted account of Rashan’s encounters with public and state services.&nbsp;</p><p>Rashan Charles died, aged 20, in Hackney, East London, after a police officer chased&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">h</a>im&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">into a convenience store</a>,&nbsp;grabbed him from behind, threw him to the ground and restrained him. A man described by the police as a&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">“member of the public”&nbsp;</a>joined in the restraint, helping to handcuff Rashan as he lay limp and face down on the floor.</p><p>On Day Six of the inquest into his death, Coroner Mary Hassell read two short statements relating Rashan’s final visits to his GP and encounters with the police and social services from childhood up until his death.</p><p>A written statement from Dr Rajendra Tahalani revealed that in September 2016 Rashan had been hit by a car, been badly injured with a deep wound on his left leg. Rashan went to see Dr Tahalani two weeks after the car accident with a support worker from the Jobcentre. Rashan needed a sick note, he was struggling to attend Jobcentre appointments.&nbsp;</p><p>Dr Tahalani said in the statement that he wrote an earlier sick note for Rashan in July 2016 for a “stress-related problem”. Rashan was on bail for police charges related to cannabis. Rashan told his doctor that he felt stressed “a lot” and smoked cannabis to help with that.&nbsp;</p><p>The statement from Dr Tahalani revealed that Rashan was referred to a psychologist and had problems with anxiety.&nbsp;</p><p>Rashan was known to children’s social services, the court heard, and was on the child protection register during childhood.&nbsp;</p><p>The coroner read a statement of Rashan’s previous convictions dating back to when he was just 13.&nbsp;</p><p>The court heard that between October 2010 and September 2016 Rashan had eight convictions for the possession of cannabis and one conviction for the possession of cannabis with the intent to supply.&nbsp;</p><p>When he was 17 Rashan received a conviction for the possession with intent to supply of heroin, for which he received a non-custodial sentence, the jury heard.</p><p>In the same statement relating to Rashan’s previous drug convictions, the coroner said that in June 2017, a month before his death, 48 packages were found at Rashan’s grandmother’s house. The coroner said that 17 of the 48 contained a light brown powder, later found to be caffeine and paracetamol. The remaining 31 packages contained a mix of cocaine and painkiller.&nbsp;</p><p>Rashan was arrested, then released on bail, the court heard. He was not charged in relation to the packages.&nbsp;</p><p>The jury had been told earlier in the inquest (during evidence on Day Four) that following Rashan’s restraint, a package containing a compressed brown substance wrapped in three layers of plastic had been found lodged in Rashan’s throat. The package measured approximately 60mm by 70mm.</p><p>In a third statement read out by the coroner on Day Six, the jury heard that the package Rashan choked on contained a mixture of paracetamol and caffeine. It weighed 6.18 grams.&nbsp;</p><p>The coroner told the jury that the package swallowed by Rashan on 22 July contained the same ratio of caffeine and paracetamol to some of the packages found at his grandmother’s house one month earlier.</p><p>The jury’s verdict is expected today.&nbsp;</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="392" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span><br /></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-police-witness-evidence">Rashan Charles inquest: ‘He went from being arrested to clearly struggling and needing help’ </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">‘I’m a first aider’ said man who helped restrain and handcuff Rashan</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">‘My concern was his safety’ Police officer on Rashan Charles restraint</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan Charles: Inquest into death after restraint by police officer and ‘member of the public’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Tue, 19 Jun 2018 23:12:25 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 118494 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rashan Charles inquest: ‘He went from being arrested to clearly struggling and needing help’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-police-witness-evidence <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Police officers tell of fatal pursuit of a young black Londoner. Witnesses recall Rashan “struggling to breathe” while under restraint.&nbsp;Inquest report from Days Four, Five and Six.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_2.jpg" alt="" title="Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017" width="460" height="392" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p><p>Witnesses have told a jury&nbsp;at St Pancras Coroner’s court about the final&nbsp;moments in the&nbsp;life of 20 year old black Londoner, Rashan Charles.</p><p>Police officers tried to explain what prompted their fatal pursuit of Rashan in the early hours of Saturday 22 July last year.&nbsp;Witnesses told how the young man was struggling to breathe and choking as a police officer and another man restrained him. A police lawyer asked repeatedly if what they saw and heard really&nbsp;<em>were&nbsp;</em>signs of choking, which he specified as&nbsp;“coughing” or “gasping for breath”.</p><p>This report records evidence from&nbsp;Days Four, Five and Six, namely: Friday 8th, Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th June.</p><h2>The basic facts</h2><p>Last week, over the first three days of the inquest,&nbsp;the jury heard that&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan was chased into a convenience store</a>&nbsp;in Hackney, East London by a police officer who grabbed him from behind, threw him to the ground and restrained him. A man described as a&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">“member of the public”&nbsp;</a>joined in the restraint, helping to handcuff Rashan as he lay, limp and face down on the floor.</p><p>The police officer and the second man&nbsp;must be&nbsp;referred to in court as BX47 and Witness 1, Coroner Mary Hassell&nbsp;having&nbsp;<a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/rashan-charles-pir">granted both men anonymity</a>&nbsp;in a ruling last November.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Why did BX47 chase Rashan?</strong></h2><p>The court heard that&nbsp;on the day of Rashan’s death a group of highly trained Metropolitan police officers from the Territorial Support Group (TSG) were out on patrol in three carriers in the London borough of Hackney.</p><p>In evidence — over&nbsp;days two,&nbsp;three&nbsp;and four of the inquest — four of the officers, including BX47, said that their TSG team had&nbsp;been deployed to&nbsp;Hackney to deal with public order, gang crime, knife violence, and any “threat to the local economy”. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMslim-crop_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan and daughter (Family)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMslim-crop_0.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan and daughter (Family)" width="240" height="753" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan and daughter (Family)</span></span></span></p><p>BX47 was acting sergeant on a vehicle carrying six TSG officers. At around 1.30 to 1.45am, BX47’s vehicle was driving away from Dalston and towards Hoxton,&nbsp;both&nbsp;lively areas, with nightclubs, bars and pubs.</p><p>Officers in BX47’s carrier noticed a black car at the junction of a slip road off Kingsland Road, a major high street running through Hackney, the court heard.&nbsp;</p><p>Four of the police officers (including BX47) from the carrier gave evidence. They said&nbsp;the car attracted their interest because it was behaving strangely and changed its indicator lights several times. They ran a vehicle check and discovered it was a hire car, the jury was told. By this time the police carrier had passed the slip road, driving southbound&nbsp;along&nbsp;the Kingsland Road.&nbsp;</p><p>The police driver, PC Paul Richardson, said in court&nbsp;(on&nbsp;day four, Friday 8&nbsp;June)&nbsp;that he turned the carrier in the road and drew level with the black car. He said the officers had wanted to check vehicle documents and speak to&nbsp;the occupants.</p><p>PC Richardson said that he could see the driver and that the “driver’s eyes lit up” on seeing the police carrier. The driver pushed himself down into his seat, Richardson said. “I thought that it was quite suspicious&nbsp;behaviour.”&nbsp;</p><p>The court heard that as the carrier turned towards the black car,&nbsp;Rashan Charles&nbsp;got out from the back of the vehicle, and the black car drove off at speed.</p><p>(On Day Two of the inquest, Tuesday 5 June,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">Officer BX47 told the court</a>&nbsp;that the Territorial Support Group&nbsp;team had been briefed about wanted individuals in Hackney. Under questioning he confirmed that Rashan Charles was <em>not</em> on the “Wanted” list. He said he did not recognise Rashan or anyone else in the vehicle.)</p><p>A second officer, granted anonymity and referred to in court as BX48,&nbsp;who gave evidence on&nbsp;Tuesday 5&nbsp;and Wednesday 6 June, told the court that it was dark, raining and conditions were bad, so they did not pursue the car. She added that the protocol was that police carriers shouldn’t chase vehicles. The officers chose to pursue Rashan on foot.</p><p>Rashan had run off&nbsp;down a side street underneath a railway arch, the court heard. The carrier drove ahead of Rashan, then BX47 and a second officer left the carrier. BX47 went one way and the second officer another, to cut Rashan off, they said. Rashan then changed direction, ran towards Kingsland Road and then into the convenience store, where BX47 caught up with him.&nbsp;</p><p>(On Day Two of the inquest,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">the jury saw the shop's CCTV footage of&nbsp;</a>&nbsp;Rashan walking into the shop, followed a few seconds later by BX47.)</p><p>Richardson said&nbsp;that&nbsp;while the officers were chasing Rashan, the carrier lost sight of them and drove around looking for them. Eventually&nbsp;he&nbsp;said they heard BX47 call in on the police radio.&nbsp;</p><h2>BX47 radios his team, then summons an ambulance</h2><p>On police body worn camera footage shown in court many times, BX47 is seen, several minutes into the restraint, and after Rashan has become limp, making two calls. On the first he says: “More to my location quick, back of the shop.” Then he makes a second call and asks for the London Ambulance Service.&nbsp;</p><p>The carrier then made its way back to Kingsland Road and to the shop, which was on the other side of the slip road where they’d been earlier, the court heard.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">He is struggling to breathe</p><p>PC Deryck Baker was in the carrier that day. During questioning&nbsp;on&nbsp;day four&nbsp;he said that as the police carrier approached the shop,&nbsp;a member of the public outside tried&nbsp;to flag them down, and that&nbsp;man&nbsp;told the officers:&nbsp;“He is struggling to breathe.”&nbsp;</p><p>PC Baker and officer BX48 were first to leave the carrier, with BX48 first into the shop, where she proceeded to remove Rashan’s handcuffs and attempt CPR.&nbsp;</p><p>Police Inspector Neil Holyoak, the officer in charge of the three TSG carriers, told the court&nbsp;that&nbsp;he arrived soon after that. During questioning&nbsp;on day four&nbsp;he said that on seeing Rashan inside the shop on the floor receiving CPR he secured the scene and rounded up witnesses.&nbsp;</p><p>Holyoak told the court that another police officer, PC Stacey Dooly, who had been in the carrier with BX47, told him that she had found a lock-knife nearby.&nbsp;</p><p>The jury was told that the lock-knife was found across the street and slightly further down the road from the shop. When the coroner asked whether there was anything to link the knife to Rashan, Holyoak said&nbsp;<em>No</em>. Asked if there was anything to link the knife to the black car, Holyoak said&nbsp;<em>No</em>.&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>When did Rashan stop breathing?</strong></h2><p>In CCTV and police body worn camera footage shown in court Rashan is seen&nbsp;walking into&nbsp;the shop followed seconds later by BX47 who grabs him from behind, pulls him to the front of the shop and slams him to the ground. A second man in plain clothes, referred to in court as Witness 1, joins the restraint and helps the officer to handcuff Rashan. Initially Rashan is seen struggling, but when the cuffs go on his body appears limp. Close up footage shows his face drained of colour and his eyes wide.&nbsp;</p><p>Several other members of the public were present inside the shop and just outside.&nbsp;On&nbsp;day three&nbsp;last week&nbsp;the court heard from Witness 2, who gave evidence through an interpreter and&nbsp;said he&nbsp;remembered very little about what happened.&nbsp;</p><p>This week, on Monday, day five of the inquest, the court heard evidence from Abdullah Ozpalas, a local taxi driver who went into the shop to buy something. &nbsp;</p><p>Ozpalas was&nbsp;standing inside&nbsp;close to&nbsp;the entrance door,&nbsp;while Rashan was restrained on the floor. The coroner asked Ozpalas how BX47 appeared while Rashan was on the floor and before back up and the&nbsp;ambulance services arrived. Ozpalas replied that the scene was confusing, adding: “From the view that I had, he looked panicked. He was alarmed.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Charles"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Charles" width="435" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles</span></span></span></p><p>During questioning Ozpalas told the coroner he couldn’t recall whether Rashan was choking or not. In a statement written in the hours after the incident, Ozpalas told police that he saw Witness 1 holding Rashan’s head and&nbsp;trying to keep his mouth open so that he wouldn’t choke.</p><p>On Monday and Tuesday, days five and six of the inquest, the court&nbsp;heard from three men on a night out at a nearby cocktail bar, who said they saw Rashan&nbsp;run into the shop, followed soon afterwards by BX47.&nbsp;</p><p>One of them, James Walsh, told the court on Monday that he didn’t hear the officer or Rashan say anything as they entered the shop.&nbsp;</p><p>Walsh told the coroner that he went into the shop to buy a lighter and refreshments. When Rashan was&nbsp;brought&nbsp;to ground, he said: “I was coming in and out of the store feeling nervous.” He went outside to “wave down” a vehicle. “I can’t remember if it was a police van or ambulance with blue lights.”</p><p class="mag-quote-left">He continued to choke for a couple of minutes</p><p>In court,&nbsp;Walsh had trouble recalling the details of what he saw between Rashan and BX47. He confirmed the details&nbsp;recorded in&nbsp;his statement made a few hours after the incident. In a handwritten statement taken at the time&nbsp;at a police station a few hours later&nbsp;Walsh said he saw BX47 holding Rashan face down, then “suddenly” he noticed a problem with Rashan’s breathing. The court heard that Walsh had thought Rashan was choking. “The man continued to choke for a couple of minutes,” he said.</p><p>Jude Bunting, the lawyer for the family, asked Walsh about BX47’s demeanour and whether the officer was panicking or calm. Walsh replied that he wouldn’t “use the word panicking” but “I wouldn’t say calm. He was nervous as we all were.”&nbsp;</p><h2>Police lawyer says signs of choking include “coughing” or “gasping for breath”</h2><p>Neil Saunders, counsel for BX47 and BX48, asked Walsh to clarify his comments about Rashan choking.&nbsp;He suggested to Walsh that there was no “obvious” signs of Rashan choking. Walsh replied that he could see that there was a problem: “I felt in shock and nervous,” he said. Saunders suggested that an obvious sign of choking “may be coughing” or “gasping for breath”. Walsh replied that he couldn’t remember Rashan coughing or gasping for breath.</p><p>On Tuesday, Walsh’s friends David Martinho and Callum McCrae&nbsp;gave evidence. Martinho told the court that after seeing the initial chase, he saw Rashan and the officer on the floor inside the shop. He said at first Rashan was trying to escape and then he noticed Rashan’s body become still and his eyes wide. “I can’t be precise, it was all very sudden,” he told the court.</p><p>Martinho said during questioning that he felt that when BX47 realised Rashan was unwell, his behaviour changed. It was no longer about arresting Rashan, Martinho said, it was about trying to help him.&nbsp;</p><p>The coroner read Martinho part of a statement he wrote in the hours after the incident where he said that he noticed Rashan was struggling to breathe. “Did you think he was choking?” the coroner asked. “Yes, that is probably the right word,” he replied.</p><h2><span>“I could see that Rashan was struggling to breathe”</span></h2><p>Callum McCrae was outside the shop waiting for his friend when Rashan and BX47 ran into the shop, the court heard. Standing by the door of the convenience store, McCrae saw BX47 pulling Rashan down a narrow aisle to the front of the shop. He turned away for a moment and when he looked back into the shop Rashan was on the floor with BX47 holding him. “It was still a bit of struggle,” he told the court. He couldn’t tell if Rashan was resisting or “his&nbsp;airway&nbsp;had been blocked, which we found out later”.&nbsp;</p><p>While BX47 was holding Rashan down, Witness 1 came over, knelt down over Rashan and helped the officer to cuff him. “I think it then went from being an arrest to noticing that Rashan was in some trouble,” McCrae told the court. During questioning he said that he couldn’t remember one hundred per cent, “but I could see that Rashan was struggling to breathe.”</p><p>The coroner asked him to explain. “He went quite still,” McCrae replied. “I could tell something was not quite right.” The court heard that McCrae moved into the shop closer to Rashan.&nbsp;At that point he didn’t know there was something in Rashan’s mouth, he thought Rashan was having a fit, choking or having a seizure.</p><p>The jury was told in previous accounts by Witness 1 and BX47 that Rashan had been “clenching his teeth” and “biting”. The court heard police body worn camera footage of BX47 shouting, “Spit it out” and “open your mouth”. The coroner asked McCrae if he thought Rashan was biting or closing his mouth deliberately. McCrae replied that he didn’t know something was in Rashan’s mouth, so at the time he didn’t think it was deliberate. “My concern was that&nbsp;he went from being arrested to clearly struggling and needing help,” he said.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">It was the look on his face.</p><p>The coroner said there was a difference in what McCrae said in his statement immediately after the event in July and in court. In his statement he mentions seeing Rashan was moving, struggling to breathe. In court McCrae said he became concerned when Rashan stopped moving. McCrae replied that he noticed a difference in Rashan struggling to escape and then struggling to breathe. The coroner asked how he could tell Rashan was having difficulty breathing. “It was the look on his face,” McCrae replied.</p><p>Bunting asked McCrae what state he thought BX47 was in, calm or panicking. McCrae replied: “<em>I</em>&nbsp;was panicking. He was the calmest person there. The fact that he was a policeman on his own dealing with the situation, he seemed calm.”</p><p>The inquest continues.</p><hr /><p><br />Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider">‘I’m a first aider’ said man who helped restrain and handcuff Rashan</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">‘My concern was his safety’ Police officer on Rashan Charles restraint</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan Charles: Inquest into death after restraint by police officer and ‘member of the public’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Shine A Light Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 13 Jun 2018 16:23:57 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 118341 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘I’m a first aider’ said man who helped restrain and handcuff Rashan https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-day-three-first-aider <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rashan Charles inquest, Day Three: A ‘confused, shocked and panicked’ police officer. A ‘member of the public’ who intervened ‘without thinking’. Jury asks: Who was in charge?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMcrop.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_DAUGHTER_FAMcrop.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="333" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles with his daughter (Family)</span></span></span></p><p><span>An inquest jury heard evidence on Wednesday from the man who helped a police officer restrain and handcuff young black Londoner Rashan Charles.&nbsp;</span></p><p>Rashan, who was 20, died after being restrained by the police officer and the man described by police as a “member of the public” on Saturday 22 July last year.&nbsp;<span>At&nbsp;</span><span>around 1:45am</span><span>&nbsp;the officer followed Rashan into a convenience store in Hackney, East London, grabbed him from behind, threw him to the ground and restrained him. &nbsp;</span></p><p>The court heard that&nbsp;<span>before that day</span><span>&nbsp;Witness 1 did not know Rashan or the police officer, who is known in court by the cipher BX47.&nbsp;</span><span>Witness 1&nbsp;</span><span>said he was a frequent visitor to the shop, and had stopped by that morning to buy a sandwich and a drink. He was outside the shop when he saw BX47 run inside. Witness 1 said he walked into the shop and saw Rashan on the floor, pinned down by the police officer as several bystanders looked on.</span></p><p><span>Once on the floor BX47 tried to retrieve something from Rashan’s mouth while pinning him down. At this point Rashan was still moving and wriggling beneath him. CCTV footage show his legs kick against a tall drinks fridge.</span></p><h2>Witness 1:&nbsp;<span>“Do you want a hand?” Officer BX47: “Yes.”</span></h2><p>During questioning Witness 1 said that&nbsp;<span>“without thinking”</span><span>&nbsp;he offered to help. He told the court: “The officer and Rashan Charles both didn’t look comfortable. So I thought I would step in to defuse any resistance and struggle between the two.”</span></p><p>He said the police officer had appeared “panicked”, “confused” and “in shock”.&nbsp;</p><p>Witness 1 said that both Rashan and BX47 “seemed to be in an awkward position”. And: “I wanted to assist both parties.”</p><p>He told the court that he tried to offer support when it became clear that Rashan was unwell and unresponsive. &nbsp;</p><p>CCTV footage of the restraint showed Witness 1 walking into frame, then getting himself astride Rashan and trying to grab hold of the young man’s arms.</p><p>The jury was shown BX47’s body worn camera footage, which included sound. Before Witness 1 joins in the restraint, he asks BX47, “Do you want a hand?” The officer replies: “Yes.”&nbsp;</p><h2><span>Coroner: “Were you resting on him?”</span></h2><p>Witness 1 told the court that he then knelt down with one knee on the floor, wedged between the drinks fridge and the right hand side of Rashan’s body. During questioning he said his other knee was on the other side of Rashan’s body. In CCTV footage shown to the court, Witness 1’s leg appears to be resting on Rashan’s upper thigh for quite some time before another officer and paramedics arrive on the scene.&nbsp;</p><p><span>The coroner asked him, “Were you resting on him?” Witness 1 replied: “I was resting on my elbow and my knee.”&nbsp;</span></p><p>Working together, Witness 1 and BX47 are seen to handcuff Rashan, who is face down on the floor and, by now, completely still.&nbsp;</p><p>Witness 1 takes Rashan’s limp right hand and passes it for BX47 to apply handcuffs. He remains kneeling on Rashan’s limp body.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="392" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p><p><span>In court Witness 1 said that</span><span>&nbsp;after the handcuffing he put his right hand “under Rashan’s face to support it”.</span></p><p>In body worn camera footage shown in court Witness 1 says, “Just relax, it’s alright.” Then BX47 says: “Turn him to his side” and “He’s got something in his mouth.”</p><h2>Witness 1: “He’s just putting it on.” BX47: “No he’s not”&nbsp;</h2><p>Other voices and background noise can be heard. Over the din, BX47 says: “Breathe, breathe, breathe.” Then, in a louder voice: “I think he swallowed something.” Someone says, “Open your mouth.” BX47 radios colleagues nearby, giving his location.&nbsp;</p><p>At one point Witness 1 says: “He’s just putting it on,” to which BX47 replies, “No he’s not.”&nbsp;</p><p>The coroner asked Witness 1 what made him say that Rashan was&nbsp;“putting it on”. “I don’t know,” he said. “I thought that he might have gone into a fit. Maybe prior to me coming in. Maybe there was a struggle.”&nbsp;</p><p>The jury heard that it was only after the cuffs went on that Witness 1 realised Rashan was unwell. He can be heard on the body worn camera footage saying, “Come on mate, we want to look after you.” BX47 says: “We are not fussed about the drugs.”</p><p>Witness 1 told the court more than once that he thought Rashan was in shock or having a fit. Under questioning, Witness 1 said that Rashan showed no sign of strength, response or struggle.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Come on mate, we want to look after you.</p><p>The coroner questioned Witness 1 about what he did next, which was to pinch Rashan’s nose and hold his cheeks. Witness 1 said he hoped that by pinching Rashan’s nose he could force the young man’s mouth to open.</p><p>“What was your aim in holding his cheeks?” the coroner asked. Witness 1 said he wanted to prevent Rashan’s face from hitting the floor and to keep his mouth open. He said that Rashan’s movements were “not right and his body wasn’t responding”.&nbsp;</p><p>“What was Rashan doing at that point?” asked the coroner. “Clenching his teeth,” said Witness 1. Could you tell if that was intentional or an involuntary reaction, asked the coroner. “It’s hard to say,<span>”</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>said Witness 1.</span><span>&nbsp;</span><span>“</span><span>That is why I was asking for assistance.” He said he wanted someone — either BX47 or bystanders — to check Rashan’s mouth to see what if anything was inside, blocking his airway.</span></p><p>On the body worn camera footage Witness 1 can be heard asking for something to put in Rashan’s mouth. When questioned, Witness 1 told the court that he wanted to use an object to keep Rashan’s mouth open until emergency services arrived.&nbsp;</p><h2>A one-day first aid course six years ago</h2><p>The jury heard that Witness 1 had taken part in a one-day first aid course in 2012. (On&nbsp;<span>the second day of the inquest,</span><span>&nbsp;police officer BX47 told the court that he allowed Witness 1 to assist because the man said he knew first aid. Another police officer, known as BX48, who arrived on the scene just before paramedics arrived, also told the court that she allowed the man to stay at the scene because he was a first aider. She said she could tell his</span><span>&nbsp;first aid training was historic, but he was supporting Rashan</span><span>’s head so she didn</span><span>’t ask him to leave.)</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Once Rashan is cuffed, Witness 1 can be heard on the body worn camera footage: “I’m a first aider,” he says. “I’m trying to help you stay breathing.”</p><p>He also says: “Stop biting my finger. I’m trying to help you.” The coroner asked Witness 1 to clarify because it was not clear from the footage that Rashan was in fact biting him. There is no movement of Rashan’s jaw, she said. Instead, Witness 1 appears to be holding Rashan’s cheek with his fingers and thumb when he tells Rashan to stop biting him.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">I’m a first aider, I’m trying to help you stay breathing</p><p>Witness 1 replied that he had used his forefinger to push Rashan’s mouth open. Later the coroner asked again if he was certain that Rashan was trying to bite him at this stage. Witness 1 said he could not be “one hundred per cent certain”. </p><p>He added that he wasn’t sure but that at the time he felt the “sharpness of teeth” and thought this was Rashan biting.&nbsp;</p><p>“Do you think Rashan was still conscious?” the coroner asked. “I don’t know. Not one hundred per cent. I was to the side of him. I was not sure whether he was conscious. But I noticed he was not responding soon after. I assumed he was not conscious,” he said. Witness 1 told the coroner that Rashan stopped responding when police officer BX48, arrived on the scene. BX48 then started CPR.</p><h2><span>When did Rashan lose consciousness?</span></h2><p><span>Jude Bunting, the lawyer representing Rashan’s mother and grandmother, challenged Witness 1’s recollection of when Rashan may or may not have lost consciousness.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Bunting reminded Witness 1 that in statements made to police investigators he had said he noticed Rashan losing consciousness&nbsp;</span><em>before&nbsp;</em><span>BX48 arrived in the shop, therefore, said Bunting, some time&nbsp;</span><em>before&nbsp;</em><span>BX48 arrived Rashan “was not struggling, he was not responding and he was not able to lift his head up”. The lawyer suggested that Witness 1 had noticed Rashan lose consciousness earlier than he had just told the court. When asked if he agreed with this version of events Witness 1 said “Yes”.&nbsp;</span></p><h2><span>“The officer was panicking”</span></h2><p>The court heard that in two statements Witness 1 made after Rashan’s death he told police investigators that BX47 was in shock and panicking. This quote from Witness 1’s 22 July statement made at 7.15am at Stoke Newington police station was read out in court: “The officer was panicking so I asked if he required assistance.”</p><p>About the sequence of events, the court heard that in his statement Witness 1 said that&nbsp;<em>after&nbsp;</em>the initial restraint and once Rashan is handcuffed, “The male officer was panicking.”&nbsp;</p><p>Witness 1 confirmed to the court that he was referring to BX47 in the statement. Asked to explain, Witness 1 said BX47 “was sweaty and in shock”.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">He seemed to be in shock, confused like everyone else.</p><p>The family’s lawyer read out sections from a second statement Witness 1 gave to Independent Police Complaints Commission investigators (since renamed Independent Office for Police Conduct) on 24 August last year. </p><p>“The officer seemed pretty shocked and shaken,” Bunting read from Witness 1’s statement. BX47 “was just sort of sitting there on his knees”. And: “I suppose he was confused as well.” It was only when BX48 arrived “that things started to calm down”.</p><p>“Looking back, would you say that BX47 was in a state of shock?” asked Bunting. “Very much so,” replied Witness 1. He added: “It is just the sweating and he seemed uncomfortable and just in shock I suppose.”</p><p>Under further questioning from Bunting, Witness 1 said several more times that BX47 was “just in shock” and “It seemed to me that he was in shock and tired” and “He seemed to be in shock, confused like everyone else”.</p><h2>Witness 1 on BX47: “He was not himself”</h2><p>Witness 1 told the court that he was overwhelmed and wanted more direction on what to do. Bunting asked Witness 1 if he felt that BX47 had assisted him. “I feel 47 was not one hundred per cent. He was tired.&nbsp;He was not himself,” said Witness 1. “I didn’t expect any more directions after that.”</p><p>He added that BX47 froze. About the bystanders, he said: “I couldn’t understand why there was so many people present and no one lent an extra hand that would have been so vital at that time.”</p><p>Bunting said to Witness 1 that it is clear “you were disappointed with how everyone else reacted”. He added: “Are you also a little bit disappointed in yourself? ... That you didn’t take your weight off his body?”&nbsp;</p><p>Witness 1 said: “I wouldn’t say any weight was on him.” He added that he was disappointed in himself for not doing more to clear Rashan’s airway and sit him up. “But I blanked out and lost confidence when no one else was assisting until officer BX48 arrived,” he said.&nbsp;</p><h2><span>Counsel for police: officer</span><span>’s</span><span>&nbsp;focus is Rashan</span><span>’s wellbeing</span></h2><p><span>John Beggs QC, representing the&nbsp;</span><span>Metropolitan Police&nbsp;</span><span>Commissioner, and Neil Saunders, the lawyer representing BX47 and BX48, questioned Witness 1’s account of what officer BX47 did.</span></p><p>In the body worn footage BX47 can be heard to say, “Come on mate, we’re not fussed about the drugs.” Beggs suggested to Witness 1 that it was obvious that BX47 was focused on Rashan’s wellbeing rather than capturing potential evidence. Witness 1 responded: “Yes.”</p><p>Beggs suggested that Witness 1 was trying to open Rashan’s mouth to “fish out” whatever was there, if anything. He asked whether when Witness 1 says “stop biting my fingers” it was because “you honestly believed that he was biting your fingers?”&nbsp;&nbsp;Witness 1 said: “Yes. I was in shock.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_PUMA_FAM_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_PUMA_FAM_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="788" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles (Family)</span></span></span>Saunders asked Witness 1 about the scene when he entered the shop. He suggested one of the reasons it was confusing was because of items knocked off the shelves. He asked Witness 1 if the general debris was caused by Rashan resisting arrest. Witness replied: “Yes. That’s why I stepped in to offer my assistance to defuse the situation.”</p><p>Saunders suggested that it was difficult for BX47 to restrain Rashan alone. Witness 1 replied: “To a certain extent.”</p><p>Then Saunders asked if Witness 1 stepped in because he saw BX47 doing anything wrong. Witness 1 said: “I didn’t see the officer doing anything wrong. I saw the officer holding Rashan’s left arm with both hands.”</p><p>Noting that BX47 had urged Rashan to breathe, Saunders offered Witness 1 an interpretation: that this was&nbsp;<em>not&nbsp;</em>because Rashan wasn’t breathing, but rather, “because you are asking him to&nbsp;<em>carry on breathing</em>”. Witness 1 replied: “Yes.”</p><p>Saunders asked Witness 1 if there were any obvious signs that Rashan was choking, such as “struggling to breath, coughing, spluttering”. Witness 1 replied that there were not.&nbsp;</p><p>Witness 1 again said that he didn’t receive instructions on what to do until BX48 arrived.&nbsp;</p><p>Saunders then asked Witness 1 if he agreed that there was dialogue between himself and BX47, that BX47 had given instructions and there was no question that Rashan was having a fit or choking. Witness 1 agreed.</p><p>Alluding to Witness 1’s later statements, Saunders said: “Only later when you understand that Mr Charles has passed away that you are thinking how on earth did that happen?”</p><p>Witness 1 said, “Yes. It was shocking.”&nbsp;</p><p>During questioning Witness 1 told the court that after the paramedics had arrived he and BX47 had assumed Rashan was alive.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">I wish I could have done more.</p><p>Saunders repeatedly asked Witness 1 to confirm that there were no signs of choking or struggling from Rashan, and right up until the paramedics arrived breathing checks were undertaken. </p><p>Witness 1 agreed with him. </p><p>Saunders added it is only when BX48 arrives that there is concern about consciousness and rescue breaths are administered. Witness 1 agreed.</p><p>Saunders suggested that Witness 1 did everything he could to help save Rashan. Witness 1 replied: “I wish I could have done more.” When asked if the police officers did all they could to save Rashan Witness 1 said, “As far as I could tell.”</p><h2><span>Jury: why did Witness 1 stay on top of Rashan for so long?</span></h2><p>Once questions had been asked by lawyers and the coroner, the jury had questions for Witness 1. These were put to him by Coroner Mary Hassell.</p><p>“At any point did you think that BX47 was hurting Rashan?”</p><p>Witness 1 said: “Not at any point. I was there to assist the officer as well as Rashan.”</p><p>The jury wanted to know when Witness 1 was asked to step aside. He said: “Soon after BX48 came in and took control of everything.”&nbsp;</p><p>The jury asked who was making the first aid decisions. Witness 1 said: “I would say BX47 was giving instructions. There were moments where there was a lack of support from other parties.”</p><p>The jury asked more than one question about Witness 1’s position on top of Rashan. They asked why he remained on Rashan for so long. “My arm was supporting his face,” he said. He added that all his weight was in his elbow and that he remained “to the side of him”.&nbsp;</p><p>In response to this, the jury asked: “If there was little to no weight on your left knee, why was your leg over Rashan?”</p><p>Witness 1 said: “I was in a very awkward position. I was trying to put it around him.” Witness 1 told the court that he was in pain and discomfort.</p><p>The jury asked Witness 1 if he thought that BX48’s medical experience allowed her to take over while “BX47 was panicking”. Witness 1 said “Yes”.</p><h2>Who was in control, BX47 or Witness 1?</h2><p>The coroner then questioned Witness 1 on the discrepancy in his account of who was in control before BX48 arrived. In evidence Witness 1 said that BX47 gave him instructions. He also said that BX47 froze and did very little. “He was giving instructions to the best of his ability, but I just feel that he also needed extra help,” said Witness 1.&nbsp;</p><p>The jury asked the coroner to ask Witness 1 again if he thought BX47 was making decisions or not. “I don’t know,” Witness 1 replied. Then he said again, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”&nbsp;</p><p>The inquest continues.&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">‘My concern was his safety’ Police officer on Rashan Charles restraint</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan Charles: Inquest into death after restraint by police officer and ‘member of the public’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Fri, 08 Jun 2018 16:40:19 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 118277 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘My concern was his safety’ Police officer on Rashan Charles restraint https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Officer denies using unauthorised neck hold and combat throw on young black Londoner. Asked what was in his mind, officer says: drugs, gangs, weapons. Inquest, Day Two.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_RED_HOOD_FAM_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="364" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles (Family)</span></span></span></p><p>The police officer who restrained Rashan Charles last summer was questioned yesterday at St Pancras Coroner’s Court&nbsp;about his actions during the fatal encounter.&nbsp;</p><p>Rashan, aged 20, died after being restrained by the officer and a man described as a “member of the public” at a convenience shop in Hackney, East London.&nbsp;</p><p>The officer, known in court as BX47, said he followed Rashan into the shop after seeing him exit a car in the early hours of the morning of 22 July 2017.&nbsp;</p><p>In CCTV footage shown to the court Rashan walks into the shop, followed a few seconds later by BX47. The officer grabs Rashan from behind, turns him and walks him down a narrow aisle to the front of the shop. Then he pushes Rashan against an ice-cream chest freezer, puts an arm around his neck and shoulders and throws him to the ground.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="392" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p><p>Coroner Mary Hassell asked the police officer what he was trying to do when he threw Rashan to the ground. He replied that he had used a type of restraint known to police as a “seat belt hold” or “reverse take down” to “better control” Rashan.&nbsp;</p><p>“Looking back, do you think that the reverse take down was appropriate?” the coroner asked.</p><p>“Yes,” he replied. “My priority was getting control of him. I was struggling to do so while standing.”&nbsp;</p><h2>Why did BX47 follow Rashan?</h2><p>The court heard that BX47 belonged to an elite group of specially-trained police officers known as Territorial Support Group (TSG). He received regular high-level training in public order and crisis situations.This training included the range of approved methods for restraining a person resisting arrest.&nbsp;</p><p>Before going out into a London borough, Territorial Support Group patrols are given an intelligence briefing on the locality. On the night of Rashan’s death BX47 had been deployed to Hackney. Jude Bunting, the lawyer representing Rashan’s mother and grandmother, told the court that the Hackney briefing attended by BX47 included specific intelligence on wanted individuals. Bunting said Rashan Charles was not one of them.&nbsp;</p><p>Under questioning, BX47 told the court that he did not know Rashan, had not met him before pursuing him that day, and did not recognise anyone in the car Rashan was in.</p><h2>A combat throw to the ground</h2><p>Bunting asked which part of his training did BX47 draw on once he had hold of Rashan and just before he threw him to the ground, adding that one principle was to avoid taking a person to ground unless you are confident you can control them. It had to be a controlled take down. Yet BX47 had omitted that step.</p><p>The officer replied that he thought he could control Rashan from the ground more easily. He denied missing out the step and said that before throwing Rashan down, “I first took hold of his arms.”&nbsp;</p><p>Referring to the police training manual used by Territorial Support Group trainers Bunting described the correct procedure for “reverse take down” which involves communicating verbally with the person being arrested, holding them by the shoulders and guiding them to the floor while safeguarding their head. Bunting asked BX47 to compare the correct procedure with the CCTV of his encounter with Rashan.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-left">He is not escorted to the ground, he is thrown with force.</span>“He is not escorted to the ground, he is thrown with force,” Bunting said. “When you landed on the ground your hand was around his throat. Would you agree that this was not the rear take down we can see in the training manual? This was a neck hold and combat throw down?”</p><p>BX47 said: “No.” He insisted that he had used the correct restraint and that he did not put his hand on Rashan’s throat.&nbsp;</p><p>In response to further questioning about the type of restraint used, BX47 said: “I believe that he was trying to put his hands to his mouth,” adding that he was focused on gaining “control” of Rashan and stopping the movement of his hands.&nbsp;</p><p>The jury was shown CCTV of what happened after Rashan was thrown to the ground, and then footage with sound from BX47’s body worn camera. The officer can be heard shouting: “Spit out, spit it out.”&nbsp;</p><p>He told the court that he believed Rashan had something in his mouth and that he applied pressure between “where the lower jaw meets the upper jaw, which would normally make the mouth open”. In the body worn camera footage Rashan is wriggling beneath BX47, who holds him down, leaning over him.&nbsp;</p><h2>A ‘member of the public’&nbsp;intervenes</h2><p>A second man, dressed in jeans and a jumper, joined in the restraint. Described by police as a “member of the public”, he must be known only as Witness 1. (Last November the coroner&nbsp;<a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/rashan-charles-pir">granted&nbsp;anonymity</a>&nbsp;to&nbsp;two police officers and two witnesses — including the men who restrained Rashan: BX47, and Witness 1.)</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_PUMA_FAM.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHAN_PUMA_FAM.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="788" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles (Family)</span></span></span></p><p>Bunting asked BX47 if he knew Witness 1. No, he said. Bunting asked if knew whether Witness 1 had any experience in such situations. BX47 did not answer directly. Instead, he replied: “I never met him before.”</p><p>CCTV showed Witness 1 and BX47 handcuffing Rashan as he lay face down. Rashan appears to stop moving. In footage from the body worn camera that was positioned just below&nbsp;BX47’s left shoulder, Rashan’s mouth, lips and neck look faintly off-colour.&nbsp;</p><h2>‘He’s just putting it on<span>’</span></h2><p>The coroner and lawyer for Rashan’s family took BX47 through the footage, attempting to estabish when exactly it became clear to him that Rashan was unwell.&nbsp;</p><p>BX47 watched the footage of Rashan on the ground, handcuffed with the two men restraining him, Witness 1 says, “He’s just putting it on.” Officer BX47 says, “No he’s not.”</p><p>Coroner Mary Hassell asked BX47: “At this point are you concerned by now?”</p><p>BX47 said: “The whole way through I was concerned.”&nbsp;</p><p>In the footage, Witness 1 and BX47 ask Rashan to open his mouth. One of them says: “There’s something in his mouth.” BX47 tells Rashan to breathe. Witness 1 pinches Rashan’s nose. In court BX47 said he didn’t see Witness 1 do this at the time. Witness 1 holds Rashan’s mouth. The coroner said: “Can you tell me what that’s about?”&nbsp;&nbsp;BX47 replied: “No, I can’t remember.”</p><p>The coroner said that Rashan appears to be unconscious in the footage when Witness 1 and BX47 are restraining him and asking him to open his mouth.&nbsp;</p><p>“By now are you not thinking that Rashan might have lost consciousness?” she asked.&nbsp;</p><p>“I was not sure,” said BX47.</p><p>The coroner said that looking at the screen one interpretation would be that Rashan had lost consciousness.</p><p>BX47 said that he conducted a breathing test and believed Rashan was still breathing. He said he thought he could see Rashan clenching his teeth.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">Would you agree that he looked terrified?</p><p>On body worn camera footage shown to the court, roughly one minute and 30 seconds into the restraint Rashan makes a noise, like a whimper or murmur. A close up of his face shows his eyes wide and staring. For Rashan’s family, Bunting asked BX47: “Would you agree that he looked terrified?”</p><p>BX47 said: “I don’t know. His eyes were looking wide.” He added that he did not recall seeing signs of Rashan’s distress. His said his eye level was slightly different to the body worn footage shown to the court.&nbsp;</p><p>Bunting suggested to BX47 that the reason he tells Rashan to “breathe” is because “you were concerned that he was not breathing?”</p><p>“No,” the officer replied.</p><p>Bunting asked BX47 if he agreed that Rashan shows no signs of acknowledging him.&nbsp;</p><p>BX47 agreed.</p><h2>Signs of choking?</h2><p>Bunting asked: “How could Rashan remove anything from his mouth when he was handcuffed? How could he stop himself from choking? How could he talk?”&nbsp;</p><p>BX47 said he didn’t think Rashan was choking. He said he couldn’t see any signs that Rashan was choking. The choking signs he would look for would be “coughing, struggling to breathe, visibly choking”.&nbsp;</p><p>Bunting suggested to BX47 that his training had prepared him for identifying and dealing with a medical emergency. He said that during the restraint BX47 was attempting to conduct a “search by mouth”, something that should only be done with multiple police officers.&nbsp;</p><p>“At that point I’m trying to get whatever is in his mouth out for his safety,” BX47 said. “It was not about searching. My concern was primarily about his safety.”&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">My concern was primarily about his safety.</p><p>Bunting referred again to the police training manual. He said that if a person had something in their mouth the protocol was to call an ambulance immediately: “You felt that there was something in his mouth” and yet didn’t call an ambulance immediately. “Would you agree?”</p><p>BX47 agreed.</p><p>Throughout questioning BX47 maintained that he thought Rashan had something in his mouth or was attempting to put something in his mouth. Bunting reminded him that suspected swallowing of concealed drugs should be considered a medical emergency, so why did he not treat Rashan as a medical emergency?</p><p>BX47 replied: “Not initially. There was a lot going on. I was trying to look at what the situation was.” He added that he put Rashan on his side as that was the best method to “aid his breathing”.&nbsp;</p><p>Bunting said the reason BX47 had had such extensive training was because the use of restraint poses serious risks. He suggested that the officer didn’t follow protocol because “you were panicking”. He asked, “Do you agree you lost control?”&nbsp;</p><p>“I wouldn’t say I completely lost control of the situation, no,” said the officer.</p><h2>Counsel for the police</h2><p>Following a break, Neil Saunders, the lawyer representing BX47, and John Beggs QC, representing the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, questioned&nbsp;the officer.</p><p>John Beggs QC elicited that BX47 was with a patrol of six officers in Hackney that morning. While driving towards Hoxton in south Hackney,&nbsp;the patrol became suspicious of a small car at a set of traffic lights after seeing the driver’s indicator light switched direction “at least” three times. When, later, Rashan left the vehicle, BX47 left the patrol&nbsp;vehicle&nbsp;to pursue him on foot.&nbsp;</p><p>Beggs suggested to BX47 that he chased Rashan Charles because of the “behaviour of the vehicle from which he emerged” which “on at least three occasions changed directions in apparent reaction to your carrier” an obvious police vehicle.&nbsp;</p><p>To each suggestion BX47 answered: “Yes”. &nbsp;</p><p>Beggs added that the time of day, it was around 1.45am, was another factor.&nbsp;</p><p>“Yes,” BX47 agreed.</p><h2>In the officer’s mind: drugs, gangs, weapons</h2><p>Beggs then asked BX47 what he thought Rashan would have been doing in that area at that time? BX47 responded that he thought “people” would be “out to sell drugs or involved in some sort of gang activity”. He added that there could have been weapons or drugs in the car. &nbsp;</p><p>Neil Saunders, representing BX47, asked his client if he saw Rashan put anything his mouth when he followed him into the shop?&nbsp;</p><p>BX47 said no, that he saw Rashan raise an arm. He said his first thought was to get control of Rashan’s arms to prevent him reaching for anything such as a weapon.</p><p>“What sort of weapon would you have in mind that night?” Saunders asked.</p><p>BX47 said he thought a knife.&nbsp;</p><p>Saunders went over the restraint used and BX47 repeated that he was trying to get control of Rashan’s arms and stop him putting his hands to his mouth.&nbsp;</p><p>Was BX47 ever sure that Rashan had swallowed anything? Saunders asked.</p><p>The officer replied: “No, not until later on when the object was pulled out.”</p><p>Saunders said that during the body worn camera footage Witness 1 can be heard telling Rashan: “Stop biting my fingers!” He asked BX47 why this was significant. “The fact that he would be biting would make me think that he was not unconscious,” BX47 replied.</p><p>Saunders asked BX47 if he thought any harm was being done to Rashan. BX47 said: “No”.&nbsp;</p><p>“Were you under the impression that everything being done was to assist Mr Charles?” Saunders asked,</p><p>“Yes,” said BX47.</p><p>Once the lawyers had finished questioning BX47, the coroner asked the jury if they had questions for the officer. They had one. The coroner read it out: “Did you see Rashan trying to bite Witness 1’s fingers?” </p><p>“No,” said BX47.&nbsp;</p><p>The inquest continues.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Edited by Clare Sambrook for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint">Rashan Charles: Inquest into death after restraint by police officer and ‘member of the public’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 06 Jun 2018 14:39:13 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 118270 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rashan Charles: Inquest into death after restraint by police officer and ‘member of the public’ https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rashan-charles-inquest-lethal-restraint <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Coroner questions police officer on his decision to let a man described as a ‘member of the public’ assist in lethal restraint of young black man. Inquest, Day One.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHANPORTRAITSDAY1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHANPORTRAITSDAY1.jpg" alt="lead lead " title="" width="460" height="412" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles</span></span></span></p><p>The inquest into the death of Rashan Charles who died after being restrained by police opened today at St Pancras court in London.</p><p>A jury heard that Rashan&nbsp;<span>died on 22 July last year after contact with a Metropolitan police officer and a second man, said to be a member of the public. The incident took place at a convenience shop in Hackney, East London.&nbsp;</span><span>Rashan was 20 years old and a father of one.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>CCTV from the shop and from police body worn camera footage was slowed down and played to the court, including the moment when Rashan is restrained, handcuffed and held down by the two men. A member of Rashan’s family left the court tears after watching the footage.&nbsp;</p><p>Members of the public and the press could only listen to proceedings from two narrow pews behind a floor-to-ceiling black curtain which hung across the small court. The curtain was put into place to provide anonymity for two police officers and two witnesses.&nbsp;</p><p>Last November coroner <a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/rashan-charles-pir">Mary Hassell granted&nbsp;anonymity</a> to&nbsp;two police officers and two witnesses — including the officer and member of the public involved in restraining Rashan. The officers will be referred to as BX47 and BX48 throughout the inquest, while the witnesses will be called Witness 1 and Witness 2. Their faces will be seen&nbsp;only&nbsp;by the jury, members of the court, named members of the family and lawyers.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>In footage of the incident shown to the court, officer BX47 can be seen grabbing Rashan from behind, spinning him around and throwing him to the ground. As he kneels over Rashan, a second man, Witness 1, arrives at the scene and holds Rashan down. The two men handcuff Rashan. By now Rashan’s body is limp. Witness 1 leans on Rashan, his knee on the young man’s leg, while BX47 is focused on Rashan’s mouth.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Xrash2ndmanimageanon720CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="392" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Witness 1 and police officer BX47 handcuff Rashan Charles on the floor of a Hackney convenience store, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span><br /></span></p><p>The coroner asked BX47 why he didn’t ask Witness 1 to leave the scene. “Looking back with hindsight, do you think that it would have been better for you to have taken charge more?” BX47 answered: “It’s hard to say. I couldn’t say. I honestly don’t know.” Hassell pressed him and asked that if a similar situation occurred again would he ask a member of the public to leave a scene so that he as a police officer could take charge. BX47 said: “Possibly.”</p><p>The coroner asked BX47 about Rashan’s state during the restraint and why called back up before calling an ambulance. “I didn’t think he had lost consciousness,” he said.</p><p>BX47 will continue to give evidence tomorrow. The inquest is scheduled to last three weeks.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/concerned-about-his-safety-Rashan-Charles-inquest">‘My concern was his safety’ Police officer on Rashan Charles restraint</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Mon, 04 Jun 2018 20:10:20 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 118240 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rodents, bedbugs, mould: UK asylum housing still a hostile environment https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/john-grayson/rodents-bedbugs-mould-uk-asylum-housing-hostile-environment <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A Manchester asylum&nbsp;hostel run by Britain’s biggest outsourcer Serco is riddled with cockroaches, rodents and bedbugs.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/cockroaches.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Cockroaches in Pamela&#039;s room"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/cockroaches.JPG" alt="" title="Cockroaches in Pamela&#039;s room" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cockroaches in Pamela's room (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Mothers with babies in a Manchester hostel run by Serco have shown us their dirty and dangerous living conditions.</p><p>Shadow immigration minister and local MP Afzal Khan has told us: “Nobody, let alone families with children, should be forced to live with cockroaches, bed bugs, damp, leaks and mice. Unfortunately we know that this is not an isolated case. Our asylum accommodation system is not fit for purpose.”</p><p>Last week I visited the ground floor and basement of the hostel that is home to three mothers and three children. One mother, Carole, showed me the damp basement where she lived with Nathan, her 11 month old son. She showed me water gathered by the dehumidifier that she had bought.&nbsp;</p><p>She said Nathan is asthmatic, and showed me bedbug bites on his arms.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>“I have them too, Serco said they could not find them, but they did not change the mattress — just put plastic on it.” That looked to me unsafe, and a suffocation risk.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Plastic_on_mattress.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Plastic_on_mattress.JPG" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bed bug infested mattress wrapped in polythene (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Carole showed&nbsp;me a video on her phone of two mice running around her bed in the middle of the night. I could hear her frustrated voice: “I can’t sleep, I can’t sleep.”&nbsp;</p><p>An asylum-seeker from West Africa, Carole told me: “I am on medication all the time, but it is the damp and Nathan and his breathing I am really worried about.”</p><p>From the bin Carole produced a glue trap with a dead mouse and cockroaches.</p><p>She said she feared fire breaking out in the kitchen above her basement room. “If there was a fire in the kitchen I could not get up these stairs with Nathan past the kitchen. I would have to climb up through the window which is below ground and all bars.”</p><p>The kitchen ceiling showed evidence of water leakage from the flats above —&nbsp;presenting risks of electrocution and fire. Carole said:&nbsp;“The ceiling leaks when upstairs use the baths and showers. We need buckets.”</p><p>Rooms provided to mothers with toddlers had no space for play.&nbsp;Carole poked behind a kitchen unit and showed me a poison box for mice. “Nathan can pick the boxes up and put them in his mouth. He was playing in here, the only place where he can, and hit his head on a door handle.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bed-bug_NathancropJPG.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bed-bug_NathancropJPG.JPG" alt="" title="" width="240" height="278" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Nathan's bedbug bites (John Grayson)</span></span></span>Carole showed me letters from her doctor, her health visitor, her play scheme organiser, all asking Serco to move her and Nathan. “The man from Serco comes, once or twice a week. He says he reports everything but people above him do nothing.”</p><p>Upstairs Pamela, from south Asia, grimly joked about the cockroaches, “I have the really big ones up here,” she says, and it’s true.&nbsp;</p><p>“I came here nearly two years ago. Paul my son is nearly two and he was a few months old then. Carole’s baby has spent his whole life down there. I think it is worse for them.”</p><p>A squalid rear yard, strewn with refuse is no place to play.</p><p>Above the women’s quarters live&nbsp;male asylum seekers. I hadn’t seen&nbsp;a mixed hostel in my six years of working alongside asylum tenants. Pamela said: “The men upstairs were really bad, noisy but there are new ones now.”</p><p>Last week I sent a detailed report and photographs to Serco company spokesman Marcus De Ville. He replied: “We are confident that in the vast majority of cases we are providing appropriate housing for asylum seekers but we are not complacent and we always want to look into any issues or concerns that are raised. We are now doing this with this property and I will get back to you in the near future.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/dead-mouse_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Dead mouse with child&#039;s toy"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/dead-mouse_0.JPG" alt="" title="Dead mouse with child&#039;s toy" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dead mouse with child's toy (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>I sent the same evidence to local MP and shadow immigration minister Afzal Khan. He replied: “The description of conditions in this house is shocking. Nobody, let alone families with children, should be forced to live with cockroaches, bed bugs, damp, leaks and mice. Unfortunately we know that this is not an isolated case. Our asylum accommodation system is not fit for purpose. It is unacceptable that in 21st century Britain, people fleeing war and persecution are routinely housed in appalling and at times unsafe conditions.”</p><p>Serco accommodates nearly&nbsp;<a href="https://www.serco.com/aspac/sector-expertise/immigration/community-accommodation-and-support">15,000 asylum seekers in&nbsp;more than&nbsp;5,000 properties</a>&nbsp;across the North West of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. According to the&nbsp;<a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/637/637.pdf">Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into asylum housing</a>&nbsp;Serco housed 8,342 asylum seekers in the North West of England in September 2016, including 994 in Manchester. This suggests that they manage between 200 and 300 asylum properties in the city. In evidence to the same inquiry Serco revealed its average income per service user in February 2016 was&nbsp;<a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/637/637.pdf">around £300</a>&nbsp;a month. So, for the three rooms in the Manchester hostel with a mother and child in each Serco received £1800 every month of taxpayers money, £21,600 over twelve months.</p><p>Security company G4S and Clearsprings also provide accommodation under the contracts known as COMPASS (Commercial and Operating Managers Procuring Asylum Support).</p><p>I’m a housing academic and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.symaag.org.uk/">volunteer working&nbsp;alongside asylum seekers</a>. Over years we have exposed the landlords’ failures and mismanagement. Reporting&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">here on Shine A Light</a>, we’ve exposed&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/pregnant-woman-g4s-asylum-housing">health hazards</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/destitution-intimidation-how-britain-shirks-its-obligations-to-asylum-seeke">intimidation</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">fire risk</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>This work has helped to provoke and inform a National Audit Office Inquiry and Parliamentary scrutiny.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Stairs_down_Carole.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Stairs down to Carole and Nathan&#039;s room (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Stairs_down_Carole.JPG" alt="" title="Stairs down to Carole and Nathan&#039;s room (John Grayson)" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Stairs down to Carole and Nathan's room (John Grayson)</span></span></span>The&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nao.org.uk/report/compass-contracts-provision-accommodation-asylum-seekers/">National Audit Office in 2014</a>&nbsp;found that&nbsp;G4S and Serco, were “still failing to meet some of their key performance targets, notably relating to the standards of property and the time taken to acquire properties for asylum seekers.”&nbsp;</p><p>Three years later, in January 2017,&nbsp;<a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/637/63711.htm">MPs reported</a>&nbsp;that the contractors were still failing. “Some of the premises used by Providers as temporary accommodation are substandard and unfit to house anyone, let alone people who are vulnerable,” MPs said.</p><p>The Home Affairs Committee urged that inspections should be passed to local authorities and should include: “whether an individual’s health or special needs are being met; the quality and quantity of food available; the fabric of the building itself.” And whether are facilities are appropriate for “vulnerable people, including mothers and children and victims of torture and trafficking.”</p><p>They warned that people were being moved around the asylum system without their consent, which can “disrupt vital support networks” and “cause emotional distress”. And they said the complaints system wasn’t working — asylum seekers feared complaints would prompt reprisals.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Carole_fire_escape_inside.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Basement window"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Carole_fire_escape_inside.JPG" alt="" title="Basement window" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Basement window: Carole and Nathan's escape route? (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>The contractors carried on failing. In November 2017, the Guardian reported charities’ claims that in Greater Manchester, asylum seekers wereforced to live in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/27/uk-asylum-seekers-living-in-squalid-unsafe-slum-conditions">“squalid, unsafe, slum housing conditions”</a>&nbsp;and the public was largely unaware of the conditions into which “traumatised people are routinely dumped”.</p><p>Serco’s origins are in defence and military procurement. Its joint venture with Lockheed Martin and Jacobs Engineering holds the government contract to design, manufacture and maintain the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.awe.co.uk/about-us/our-company/">nuclear warheads for Britain’s Trident missiles.</a></p><p>For more than 10 years, Serco has managed Yarl’s Wood detention centre, where&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/truth-about-sexual-abuse-at-yarls-wood-detention-centre">guards have sexually assaulted</a>&nbsp;women detainees, guards have stood by as expectant mothers&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/truth-about-sexual-abuse-at-yarls-wood-detention-centre">undergo obstetric examinations</a>, and where a case of child sexual abuse&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/uk-border-agencys-long-punitive-campaign-against-children-helped-by-g4s-a">went uninvestigated</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Four years ago, an undercover reporter at Channel 4 recorded Serco guards at Yarl’s Wood calling women detainees&nbsp;“animals”,&nbsp;“beasties”&nbsp;and&nbsp;“bitches”.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">“Headbutt the bitch,” one guard says.</a>&nbsp;“I’d beat her up.”</p><p>Serco is tendering for the new asylum housing contracts from 2019 worth a potential £4 billion of taxpayers’ money over seven regional contracts over ten years.&nbsp;</p><p>Serco CEO is establishment figure Rupert Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill. In his written evidence to the Home Affairs parliamentary select committee Inquiry into asylum housing in 2016 Soames said: “Our determination to provide&nbsp;<a href="http://data.parliament.uk/WrittenEvidence/CommitteeEvidence.svc/EvidenceDocument/Home%20Affairs/Asylum%20accommodation/written/36673.html">a decent and caring level of provision</a>&nbsp;and fulfill our contractual obligations despite massive losses deserves some recognition.”</p><p>I am not sure Carole and Pamela would agree.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a>&nbsp;at openDemocracy. Names have been changed.</li><li>To follow John on Twitter: @SYMAAG</li><li>To follow Clare and Shine A Light:&nbsp;</li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/john-grayson-violet-dickenson/children-made-homeless-by-migration-rules">UK migration rules make children homeless</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kiri-kankhwende/uk-outsourcing-alan-white-serco-G4S">The UK outsourcing experiment: playing with vulnerable lives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/pregnant-woman-g4s-asylum-housing">‘Please get me moved from here!’ Pregnant woman in G4S asylum housing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/fail-and-prosper-how-privatisation-really-works">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/antony-loewenstein/disaster-capitalism-and-outsourcing-of-violence-in-uk">Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/uk-border-agencys-long-punitive-campaign-against-children-helped-by-g4s-a">The UK Border Agency&#039;s long, punitive campaign against children (helped by G4S and Serco)</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight John Grayson Tue, 29 May 2018 13:50:30 +0000 John Grayson 118106 at https://www.opendemocracy.net We must protect the lives of people with learning disability https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/deborah-coles/inquest-leder-report-learning-disability <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Time and time again, grieving families are left to fight for accountability and expose systemic failings in the care of learning disabled people.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bus, by Connor Sparrowhawk (#JusticeforLB)</span></span></span></p><p>INQUEST works with an increasing number of families&nbsp;impacted by learning disability deaths. Central to our work is the need to amplify the&nbsp;concerns of families who feel let down&nbsp;by the social care&nbsp;system; to help&nbsp;them establish the truth behind&nbsp;a death; secure justice on behalf of their deceased relative; and prevent future deaths.&nbsp;</p><p>In many cases the&nbsp;circumstances surrounding a death were entirely&nbsp;preventable, had families’ voices and concerns been&nbsp;listened to&nbsp;by those responsible for their relative’s care. The cases of&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/kate-dolan/small-details-my-sister-life-cut-short">Josanne Wadsworth</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/richard-handley-conclusion">Richard Handley</a>, <a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/oliver-mcgowan-conclusion">Oliver McGowan</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/danny-tozer-conclusion">Daniel Tozer</a>&nbsp;and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/sara-ryan-clare-sambrook/connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforLB">Connor Sparrowhawk</a>— all of whom&nbsp;had a range of complex needs and disabilities — present a picture of missed opportunities and chaotic care that exacerbated their symptoms prior to their death.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DANIEL_TOZER.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DANIEL_TOZER.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Daniel Tozer</span></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JOSANNE3.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JOSANNE3.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Josanne Wadsworth at 15</span></span></span></p><p><span>In the words of Daniel Tozer’s parents, “Danny’s senseless death has devastated his family and friends” and deprived them of the opportunity&nbsp;to spend a life with someone who “lit up our lives”.</span></p><p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/kate-dolan/small-details-my-sister-life-cut-short">Kate Dolan</a> has&nbsp;written about the death of her sister of Josanne Wadsworth who had severe learning disabilities and epilepsy. Josanne died aged 31 in hospital in January 2017. <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/kate-dolan/small-details-my-sister-life-cut-short">In her blog</a>, Kate describes her relief at the hospital’s frank acknowledgement of the failings surrounding Josanne’s death. Sadly, this open approach on behalf of the hospital is not a common feature in most cases.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Richard_Handley-portrait_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Richard_Handley-portrait_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Richard Handley</span></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Oliver-McGowan-350.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Oliver-McGowan-350.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="254" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Oliver McGowan</span></span></span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connorsparrowhawk_crop_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connorsparrowhawk_crop_1.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor Sparrowhawk</span></span></span>Many families are confronted with a culture of denial and defensiveness, where public bodies are more concerned with reputational management. Further still, the majority of learning disability deaths are not independently investigated, and many are not followed by an inquest. In fact, it is often only through families dogged persistence that failings are brought to light.&nbsp;</p><p>Behind a shadow of injustice are the many untold stories of those who have died in care, and an institutional resistance to transparency or learning. This means many more lives are put at risk due to the continuation of unsafe practices. To combat this, INQUEST has long campaigned for a national oversight mechanism to collate, analyse and monitor learning arising from the deaths of learning disabled people.&nbsp;</p><p>We have also called for unexpected and unnatural learning disability deaths to be investigated by an independent body. This would put an end to the current practice of NHS Trusts, which have overall responsibility for the care of those with learning disability, investigating themselves.</p><p><span>Premature deaths precipitated by unacceptable standards of care has prompted mounting concerns, with the mother of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk, Sara Ryan,&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/inquest-responds-leder-report">describing</a><span>&nbsp;the “label of learning disability” as synonymous with “a diagnosis of a life limiting illness.” Further still, many families are aggrieved to see countless reports referring to dangerous policies and practices, which are not acted upon.</span></p><p>The recently published&nbsp;<a href="https://www.hqip.org.uk/resource/the-learning-disabilities-mortality-review-annual-report-2017/#.Wvq5G2gvyUm">LeDeR report</a>&nbsp;of learning disability deaths, commissioned by NHS England,&nbsp;has flagged instances of abuse, delays or gaps in treatment in 1 of the 8 cases examined. </p><p>What is particularly&nbsp;worrying is that these findings offer a partial account of the systemic problems which plague the care sector. Only 103 out of 1,311 learning disabilities deaths were reviewed by the University of Bristol Learning Disabilities Mortality Review&nbsp;team&nbsp;due to inadequate resources committed by&nbsp;NHS England.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">Many families are confronted with a culture of denial and defensiveness.</span>There are patterns of poor care, neglect and abuse of some of the most vulnerable groups in society. This results in poorer health outcomes and shorter life expectancy of those with a learning disability. Evidence from the LeDeR review&nbsp;shows that on average&nbsp;men with learning disabilities die 23 years younger than their non-disabled peers, while&nbsp;women die 29 years younger.&nbsp;</p><p>Learning disabled people are entitled to the same rights and protections that others enjoy. However too often inquests and investigation reveal a systematic disregard for their lives. There needs to be a more focused approach on providing the best care and treatment to those with complex needs and disabilities. This can only happen if policymakers and medical professionals extract lessons from previous deaths and force a cultural change that recognises the rights of the 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK.&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>For more information on learning disability deaths you can follows blogs by&nbsp;<a href="https://mydaftlife.com/">Sara Ryan</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.georgejulian.co.uk/blog/">George Julian</a>. If you would like to support INQUEST’s work, please donate to our Family Participation Officer Ayesha’s&nbsp;<a class="OWAAutoLink" href="https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ayesha-carmouche1">fundraising page</a>.&nbsp;Ayesha is running a half marathon to raise money to expand INQUEST’s advocacy work with families impacted by a state-related death.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kate-dolan/my-sister-life-cut-short">The significance of small details. My sister’s life cut short</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/connor-sparrowhawk-southern-health-fined-2m">&#039;We’ve done you proud&#039; — Families speak after NHS Trust fined £2million over patient deaths</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/sara-ryan-clare-sambrook/connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforLB">Connor Sparrowhawk: How one boy’s death in NHS care inspired a movement for justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Since my brother’s preventable death . . .</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/deborah-coles-ayesha-carmouche/case-for-independent-investigation-of-deaths-in-mental-he">The case for independent investigation of deaths in mental health institutions</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight ourNHS Deborah Coles Wed, 23 May 2018 06:50:00 +0000 Deborah Coles 117921 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The significance of small details. My sister’s life cut short https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/kate-dolan/my-sister-life-cut-short <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Like so many people who have learning disabilities Josanne Wadsworth died an early and preventable death.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JOSANNE.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Josanne, 29 years old, in 2015, at St Elizabeth&#039;s Centre in Hertfordshire"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JOSANNE.jpg" alt="" title="Josanne, 29 years old, in 2015, at St Elizabeth&#039;s Centre in Hertfordshire" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Josanne, aged 29, embracing life at St Elizabeth's Centre in Hertfordshire, 2015</span></span></span></p><p>Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. I once came back from dropping my child at playgroup to find that I couldn’t get into my house. I put the key in the lock but when I tried to turn it it wouldn’t move. Jammed. Stuck. Locked out. After enlisting the help of a locksmith, it transpired that a tiny millimetre length of metal had broken off the mechanism. The littlest thing stopped the whole thing from working. A millimetre away from getting into my house, yet wholly locked out.</p><p>Little things can be so important. Take, for example, the&nbsp;<a href="https://littlebluecup.org/category/about-us/">Little Blue Cup</a>&nbsp;campaign launched in recent months. A 13 year old autistic boy with severe learning disabilities had used a blue sippy cup since he was two, and wouldn’t drink from anything else. His father managed to find a replacement from a friend when the first cup wore out. But as this second cup began deteriorating and efforts to get him to drink from other cups - however similar - failed, they grew increasingly concerned. Without that blue sippy cup he would become dehydrated and had already spent time in hospital.&nbsp;</p><p>The cup was discontinued, so in a desperate plea online via Twitter, his dad asked if anyone could find and send them these little blue cups. The response was unexpected and truly heart-warming: from&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37988508">viral re-tweets to offers of cups</a>, to the company themselves&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-38141319">successfully finding</a>&nbsp;the old mould and producing a lifetime’s supply of blue sippy cups for him!&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>I like this story, not only for its happy ending, but for the success of a parent fighting for their child, understanding him totally, knowing what’s needed and communicating it successfully to people who listen and respond. Little things, perhaps, making a big difference.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Knowing and being known was important to Josanne.</p><p>Having grown up with my sister, Josanne, who had severe learning disabilities, I can appreciate the fine line between things being alright and things causing distress. Little things made a big difference. Josanne loved the little details. She used to like to know where people were, and would run through the members of the family in turn saying where they should be and what they would be doing. Knowing and being known was important to her. Knowing the little things formed the depth of her relationship with others and enabled the key to turn in the lock.</p><p>Josanne had severe learning disabilities and intractable epilepsy from infancy. She had been admitted to hospital several times in the past when she experienced clusters of seizures that wouldn’t stop. Sadly her time in hospital was often extended because she didn’t get the medications she needed at the correct times, or she wasn’t monitored closely enough, and she deteriorated enough to require intensive care.&nbsp;</p><p>One of these admissions resulted in paralysis, another in transfer to the leading London neurological hospital. It was during the latter crisis that she was prescribed a newly-licensed drug, which wonderfully caused a termination in seizures for the last two years of her life, and we saw her flourish.</p><p>Josanne had a good quality of life, despite her paralysis and learning disabilities. She had moved to St Elizabeth’s Centre in Hertfordshire aged 19, and had lived there happily for 12 years. She was a character and always secured the affections of staff and carers, even if they had heard her loud rendition of “Happy Birthday” for the umpteenth time that day (and it probably wasn’t anybody’s birthday)! There is a nursing unit on site, and specialist epilepsy nurses cared brilliantly for her. Unless she needed treatment that she could only get in hospital, she got all the care she needed there.&nbsp;</p><p>So when Josanne needed to go to hospital in January 2017 for a routine PEG replacement procedure, having removed her old one too many times, we weren’t particularly worried that she would suffer further setbacks; she wasn’t going into hospital ill, she was going in to prevent future illness. The feeding tube known as a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy)&nbsp;was the means of securing her essential medication and nutrition intake. A small thing, perhaps, but it made all the difference.</p><p>Josanne’s history showed that if she didn’t get her medication reliably she was likely to experience seizures and compounding complications if she entered status epilepsy (where epileptic fits follow one another without recovery of consciousness between), but the procedure was repeatedly delayed, which meant she wasn’t getting her essential medications. My Mum and St Elizabeth’s staff raised concerns, emphasising the severity of potential outcomes if the procedure didn’t happen imminently. But the hospital’s realisation came too late. Josanne had missed too many doses of medication, started having seizures, and quickly became too ill to have the procedure. Her seizures worsened in frequency and severity, and, as those who knew her best had warned, she developed aspiration pneumonia, and tragically died. She was 31.</p><p>The coroner concluded at an inquest held in November 2017 that Josanne died of natural causes, contributed to by neglect, with the hospital demonstrating serious failings in her care.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JOSANNE2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JOSANNE2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="588" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At 15 Josanne lived at home and attended a special school in Cambridge.</span></span></span></p><p>The fact it was so clear cut is a consolation. The hospital didn’t try to hide their failings or apportion blame elsewhere, but instead produced a 22-page Serious Incident Report that gave appalling detail to the circumstances surrounding Josanne’s death. We realise this is rarely the case, and many families supported by INQUEST are not so fortunate and have far bigger battles in their quest for justice.&nbsp;</p><p>There are many factors I could talk about - the high rate of mortality amongst learning disabled patients, poor understanding of and adherence to the Mental Capacity Act, communication issues between those who know the patient best and the medical staff, or, more positively, the difference it makes when an organisation is willing to admit mistakes and make changes to prevent similar tragedies occurring. But these are by no means little things, and deserve a greater depth of discussion than I can give here.</p><p>Perhaps the littlest thing that could have made the biggest difference was in the process of flagging vulnerable patients on admission. When Josanne was admitted to hospital the Learning Disabilities flag on the patient information system wasn’t activated. Normally it would be automatic, but, despite having lived in Hertfordshire for 12 years and having a Hertfordshire GP, Josanne was not registered on the Local Authority’s patient list as having Learning Disabilities because Josanne was originally from Cambridgeshire and her previous hospital admissions had been to the nearby hospital in Essex.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">A little thing. Without it the door to essential medical care didn’t open.</span>Why didn’t a Learning Disability flag get passed from one county to the next? Why didn’t a GP’s patient information system link into the hospital’s patient information system? And, given the severity of Josanne’s learning disability, why didn’t it occur to staff to check the flag had been activated? This would have triggered an alert to the specialist Learning Disabilities Nurse, who has greater understanding of the potential issues faced by vulnerable patients and can advocate for them. But the Learning Disabilities Nurse wasn’t even aware that Josanne was in hospital until 13 days into her stay, by which time it was too late.&nbsp;</p><p>It may just have taken a little thing, but without it the mechanism didn’t work properly, the door to essential medical care didn’t open. Josanne was instead locked in a waiting room of neglect until she died.</p><p>Whilst the hospital have frankly examined their failings and have put things in place to prevent it happening again, my concern is that other hospitals could easily make the same mistakes if learning from this incident isn’t shared. If little things like Learning Disabilities flags aren’t activated somewhere else another time, then this could happen again.&nbsp;</p><p>The wonderful story of the Little Blue Cup continues. Requests for little things that make a big difference to learning disabled people’s lives are now shared on a website and items are united with those who need them. How wonderful it would be if little needs in bigger scenarios could also be met! If healthcare professionals could make seemingly small changes to how they treat and assess vulnerable patients, it could make the biggest difference and unlock the door to saving many lives.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/our-services">The charity INQUEST</a>&nbsp;provides free and independent advice to bereaved people following a death in state care or detention in England and Wales. This piece, edited by Ayesha Carmouche, is the first in a series of collaborations between families, INQUEST and <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/deborah-coles/inquest-leder-report-learning-disability">We must protect the lives of people with learning disability</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/connor-sparrowhawk-southern-health-fined-2m">&#039;We’ve done you proud&#039; — Families speak after NHS Trust fined £2million over patient deaths</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/sara-ryan-clare-sambrook/connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforLB">Connor Sparrowhawk: How one boy’s death in NHS care inspired a movement for justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Since my brother’s preventable death . . .</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight ourNHS Kate Dolan Wed, 23 May 2018 06:50:00 +0000 Kate Dolan 117795 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Home Office fails Albanian child refugees https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/esme-madill/albanian-blood-feuds-shpresa-asylum <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One Saturday at a London drop-in for children fleeing crime gangs and blood feuds.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/dancing_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Young people at Shpresa Monday evening dance class, Forest Gate, London (Simon Parker)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/dancing_0.jpg" alt="" title="Young people at Shpresa Monday evening dance class, Forest Gate, London (Simon Parker)" width="460" height="255" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Young people at Shpresa Monday evening dance class, Forest Gate, London (Simon Parker)</span></span></span></p><p>“The first night I arrived at the foster carer’s she told me to prepare my food and then go and eat in my room,” Loran says.</p><p>“I was stressed as I was not good at cooking and it is very strange in Albania to tell people to eat alone. She was watching me and she told me to clean up as I made the food and I could not find the cloth to clean. I chewed and chewed but the food would not go down. I did not eat that night.”&nbsp;</p><p>Loran is talking to staff and volunteers from a refugee charity in York. He’s helping to train people who work with “unaccompanied minors” —&nbsp;child refugees who’ve come to this country without any adult relatives to care for them.&nbsp;</p><p>I first met&nbsp;Loran&nbsp;one sunny Saturday at Shpresa Programme, a registered charity run by and for women from the Albanian community, initially founded to help refugees from the Balkan conflicts to help themselves. Shpresa volunteers set up a Saturday drop-in for unaccompanied children from Albania who were struggling to help themselves.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-left">His hands were often sore from long days cultivating the harvest. And the beatings.</p><p>Loran had been referred by his social worker. I took his statement. Back in Albania a crime gang had forced him to tend cannabis plants on a huge farm. He slept in a shed with a corrugated iron roof. Dogs licked his hands. He says this was comforting. His hands were often sore from the long days cultivating the harvest. And from the beatings.&nbsp;</p><p>Loud noises, sudden movements frighten&nbsp;Loran. It’s hard for him to tell his story. He tries to talk about the beatings, hesitates. His eyes twitch. He speaks of his escape from the cannabis farm. Pauses. Twitches.&nbsp;</p><p>Sometimes, when a boy cries, I might put an arm around him, hold his hand. Physical contact makes&nbsp;Loran&nbsp;flinch. That first session,&nbsp;Loran&nbsp;tells me he doesn’t need our help, he’s fine.&nbsp;<em>He&nbsp;</em>wants to help&nbsp;<em>us</em>. He trains professionals and welcomes new youngsters referred to the service. He says he can look after himself.</p><p>Loran was unlucky with his foster carers. Others call Shpresa to ask how they can best support the children in their care. Children as young as 11, who have night terrors and panic attacks, children who disassociate as they talk about the violence they have witnessed and been subjected to.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>That Saturday, when&nbsp;Loran&nbsp;leaves, I walk out into the crowded, open plan office where boys and some girls may wait for hours to see volunteers who will try to find them a lawyer, refer them to the Red Cross for help in tracing family members, reassure them that they are not alone, try to guide them through the Kafkaesque UK asylum system.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BACK_HEAD_PARKER.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="At a Shpresa gathering (Simon Parker)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BACK_HEAD_PARKER.jpeg" alt="" title="At a Shpresa gathering (Simon Parker)" width="460" height="243" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At a Shpresa gathering (Simon Parker)</span></span></span></p><p>Some of these children have no lawyer when they come to us. Some have fallen into the hands of caseworkers who do shoddy work. We’ve seen pro-forma statements sent to the Home Office bearing the wrong country of origin. It takes care, time and skill to take a statement from a child who may be frightened and distrustful.</p><p>“My solicitor was kind,” Ilir says. “She told me what I said would not get back to Albania and she took time but I had not met a solicitor before… I did not know what she was going to do. There was an interpreter there and I thought she might speak to people back in Albania. She was actually really kind too but I did not know that then. At the first meeting, I was not relaxed.”</p><p>Ilir is reed thin, with a cheeky, disarming smile. He has waited three hours to see us. I apologise. He shakes my hand warmly, tells me to stop apologising. He’s thankful, makes us smile, jokes even about his homelessness and how his few belongings are scattered with friends across London.&nbsp;</p><p>He charms all the staff and volunteers — you hear happy laughter as he moves from room to room. Like&nbsp;Loran, Ilir was forced to work for a drugs gang. He waited nearly two years for a Home Office decision, and then it was a No. Any day now, he might get forcibly removed to Albania.&nbsp;</p><p>He claims not to think about it, not to care.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Ilir was forced to work for a drugs gang. He waited nearly two years for a Home Office decision. It was a No.</p><p>Then he tells me about the phone call from his cousin back in Albania saying men came looking for him. They had AK47s. Since Ilir wasn’t there, they tied up his sister. To stop her screaming they put a cloth in her mouth. “I am not upset for me,” he says quietly, “It is for her. I should be able to protect her.”</p><p>We didn't see Fation that Saturday. Fation is great at mechanics, loves volunteering, refurbishing old bikes. A while ago I asked him what he’d do if could stay in the UK. “My dream is to get a job in a garage and volunteer at Shpresa Programme,” he said. Fation, deaf in one ear from his father’s beatings, feared his father would kill him if he was returned to Albania. But the Home Office denied him asylum and his appeal was dismissed. We think he’s in Albania now. We haven’t heard from him.</p><p>That sunny Saturday we saw 13 victims of trafficking, violence or blood feuds. At 6.30pm we divided up the tasks, discussed who was the most vulnerable, whose case to put first on Monday morning. One boy had talked of suicide. We were quiet as we packed up ready for home.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Local authorities have a duty to protect and support highly vulnerable children like Loran. The&nbsp;<a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/656429/UASC_Statutory_Guidance_2017.pdf">UK government acknowledges</a>&nbsp;that unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery, including trafficking, often have complex needs.&nbsp;</p><p>There’s a system for identifying and protecting victims of trafficking, known as the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/child-trafficking/research-resources/national-referral-mechanism-nrm/">National Referral Mechanism</a>. It’s supposed to quickly gather information from various agencies, identify trafficked children, keep them safe.</p><p>But the system isn’t working for Albanian children.</p><p>In 2016, of 229 unaccompanied children from Albania who received an initial decision on their asylum claim, only two were granted refugee status, according to the Refugee Council report, <a href="https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0003/5923/Children_in_the_Asylum_System_Aug_2015__2_.pdf">Children in the Asylum System 2017</a>. The year before the figure was one.&nbsp;</p><p>One girl had been waiting more than 24 months for a Home Office decision. A lawyer told her: “You are from Albania, what do you expect? You’ll be waiting years.”</p><p>Even among professionals whose job it is to protect vulnerable children — lawyers, teachers and social workers —&nbsp;there’s a common assumption that Albania is a safe country, that these children are economic migrants.&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>But this does not match the facts. Of the 3,805 potential victims of trafficking referrals to the National Referral Mechanism in 2016, 699, the largest number, came from Albania, according to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/national-referral-mechanism-statistics/2016-nrm-statistics/788-national-referral-mechanism-statistics-end-of-year-summary-2016/file">National Crime Agency</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/tightrope_PARKER.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Young people from Shpresa learning outdoor skills with Shawfire CIC in Croydon"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/tightrope_PARKER.jpg" alt="" title="Young people from Shpresa learning outdoor skills with Shawfire CIC in Croydon" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Young people from Shpresa learn outdoor skills with Shawfire CIC in Croydon (Simon Parker)</span></span></span></p><p>Albanian children are fleeing trafficking, violence and blood feuds, a post-communist phenomenon that draws on medieval Kanun law, and demands revenge killings to salvage family honour. While the Home Office claims these feuds are&nbsp;<a href="https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/565464/CIG-Albania-Blood-feuds-v2-July-2016.pdf">“few and in sharp decline”</a>&nbsp;the European parliament reports&nbsp;<a href="http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX%3A52013IP0596&amp;from=IT">rising numbers</a>. Even the Albanian parliament admits that its efforts to prevent blood feuds have not succeeded.&nbsp;</p><p>The result is boys marked out to be killed when they reach 16.</p><p>The boy who talked of suicide that sunny Saturday had fled a blood feud. He saw his uncle shot in front of him. He wet the bed every night.&nbsp;</p><p>His appeal has been dismissed. The Home Office says the&nbsp;Albanian<em>&nbsp;</em>state will protect him. We could not find him a lawyer. We’ve tried calling his mobile. It just rings out.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Young people from Shpresa will talk about their experiences of the UK government’s hostile environment at ‘Breaking the Chains’, an event hosted by the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP Houses of Parliament on Friday, 1 June 2018 from 1-5pm. The Migrant and Refugee Children’s Legal Unit and Shpresa Programme will bring together Shpresa’s young people with legal professionals and others who support young Albanians, with expert speakers on blood feuds,&nbsp;representing trafficking victims, strategic litigation, child-centred case work, and country of origin research.To register please <a href="https://breaking-the-chains.eventbrite.co.uk">visit Eventbright</a>.</p><p><em>Young peoples names have been changed. Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/child-was-held-for-staggering-151-days-in-men-s-immigration-l">Child was held for a staggering 151 days in men’s immigration lockup Morton Hall in Lincolnshire</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/mia-light/do-your-parenting-by-skype-uk-tells-fathers-being-deported-to-jama">Do your parenting by Skype, UK tells fathers being deported to Jamaica</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/john-grayson-violet-dickenson/children-made-homeless-by-migration-rules">UK migration rules make children homeless</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Esme Madill Wed, 09 May 2018 07:00:31 +0000 Esme Madill 117748 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The racist killing of Altab Ali 40 years ago today https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/david-rosenberg/remembering-altab-ali <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; caret-color: #000000; color: #000000;"><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Helvetica; color: #333333;">Hammer attacks, punctured lungs, slashed faces... far-right groups inflicted a decade of violence on East London’s Bengali communities. In the deadly year of 1978 Bengali youth began the fightback.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/2.altabaliememorial_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/2.altabaliememorial_1.jpg" alt="lead lead lead lead A wreath with image of a man. Card reads: In loving memory of Altab Ali " title="" width="460" height="370" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Every year a memorial event is held at Altab Ali park. Image by Shamsuddin Shams</span></span></span></p><p>Just east from Whitechapel High Street in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, there is a garden with&nbsp;an ornate entrance. A tubular-framed arch merges with a Bengali-style, orange-coated metal structure. Altab Ali Park is London’s only park named after a Bengali. Previously called St Mary’s Gardens, it was one of several green spaces in Tower Hamlets named after saints.&nbsp;</p><p>Altab Ali was neither saint nor sinner, but an immigrant clothing worker who arrived as a teenager in London with his uncle in 1969. He worked in Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane, where the Bengali community was expanding as the older Jewish immigrant population receded. Members of my own family lived in Hanbury Street before World War Two.&nbsp;</p><p>Ali returned to Bangladesh for five months in 1975 and got married. When he came back to England, his bride stayed with his parents. The plan was that she would join him later. She never did.&nbsp;</p><p>On 4 May 1978, as Ali, 24, walked home from work along Adler Street, alongside St Mary’s Gardens, he was attacked and stabbed by three teenagers, whose minds had been poisoned by racists. Later at their trial they would say they attacked Ali because he was a “Paki”.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Ali was dead on arrival at London Hospital (since renamed the Royal London hospital).&nbsp;</p><p>The day Altab Ali died was local election day. The far-right National Front, formed in 1967, ran in every Tower Hamlets ward that year, and gained nearly 10 per cent of the vote. Some older National Front members had been in Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, which terrorised East End Jews in the 1930s.&nbsp;</p><p>At 10pm, as the polling booths closed, Shamsuddin Shams, who worked a few doors down from Ali, heard the shocking news. Hours earlier Ali and Shamsuddin had chatted in the street, as they often did after work. On Saturdays, clothing workers usually skipped their lunchbreak so they could finish work at 4pm. Ali and Shams would then meet in Jim’s Café, which was between their workshops, and watch wrestling on Jim’s television.</p><p>On 4 May, Shams, then just 18, had gone straight to the polling station on Brick Lane after work. “As I came out I wanted to tell someone. I saw Altab Ali coming out of the Indo-Pak grocery store at No. 45. He had two bags. One had a tiffin box with his evening meal and one had vegetables. He said to me: ‘It must be your first vote. How was it?’ I said ‘It was fine’. I asked him if he had voted yet, and he said he would do it later.”&nbsp;</p><p>Shams was devastated by Ali’s death. And initially puzzled. He hadn’t known that Ali had recently moved to Wapping and had taken a different route home that evening.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/4.anti NFdemo1978.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/4.anti NFdemo1978.jpg" alt="lead Crowd of young Bengali men fill East London street. Police officers in background. " title="" width="460" height="303" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-National Front Demo, Brick Lane 1978. Image by Alan Denney, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>Ten days later, local<strong>&nbsp;</strong>restaurants and workshops across Tower Hamlets were closed up as 7,000 Bengalis marched to Downing Street and Hyde Park. They marched silently in<strong>&nbsp;</strong>the rain, behind a vehicle carrying Altab Ali’s coffin.&nbsp;</p><p>Their placards read: “Self-defence is no offence” and “Here to stay, here to fight”. The militant response to Altab Ali’s murder, led by Bengali youth movements, was a turning point for local Bengalis. As they rallied in Hyde Park they chanted,&nbsp;</p><p>“Who killed Altab Ali?”<strong>&nbsp;</strong><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p>“Racism, racism!”&nbsp;</p><h2><strong>Fascists and skinheads on the rampage</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>On the 40th&nbsp;anniversary of this tragedy, it is salutary to recall the chain of events that led to Altab<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Ali’s murder<strong>.&nbsp;</strong>The 1971 census records 161,000 people living in Tower Hamlets.&nbsp;Ten years later that dipped to 139,000, even though<strong>&nbsp;</strong>15,000 Bengalis, working mainly in clothing workshops and catering, settled in the East End in that decade. Old factories had closed. A declining dock industry shrank further.&nbsp;Those exiting the borough were mainly white.&nbsp;</p><p>Far-right organisations highlighted the rapid cultural and demographic changes. A section of East End dockers joined with Smithfield Market meat porters in 1968 and marched to parliament to support Enoch Powell’s racist “Rivers of Blood” speech. Danny Harmston, who led the Smithfield porters, had formerly been Oswald<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Mosley’s bodyguard.</p><p>Young skinheads began to intimidate new Asian immigrants. In a study of racial tensions in 1970s East London, Reverend Ken Leech said the term “Paki bashing” was invented on Bethnal Green’s Collingwood Estate.&nbsp;</p><p>In April 1970, two Asian hospital workers were attacked near the estate after work.&nbsp;<em>The&nbsp;</em><em>Observer newspaper&nbsp;</em>wrote: “Any Asian careless enough to be walking the streets alone at night is a fool.”&nbsp;</p><p>Days later, Tosir Ali, a Wimpy Bar worker, was attacked by two skinheads on his way home. They slit his throat and left him to die. Later that month 50 skinheads rampaged down Brick Lane causing mayhem.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">“Any Asian careless enough to be walking the streets alone at night is a fool.” <em>Observer editorial</em>&nbsp;</p><p>Initially, the skinheads were not politically organised, but attacked those they considered vulnerable. This included new immigrants. By the mid-1970s, the National Front were actively recruiting skinheads especially in the East London neighbourhoods of Shoreditch and Bethnal Green, where they recorded relatively high votes in the 1974 general election.&nbsp;</p><p>A thuggish local orator, Derrick Day, attracted youth to street meetings. In September 1975, hundreds joined an “anti-mugging” march, blaming Blacks and Asians for street robberies.&nbsp;</p><p>A year later National Front locals established a regular Sunday morning sales pitch at the corner of Brick Lane and Bethnal Green Road, which attracted supporters from Essex and Kent.&nbsp;</p><p>On its books stall, just outside a Jewish-owned shop, you could purchase “Did 6 Million Really Die?” by National Front activist Richard Verrall.&nbsp;</p><p>Vile racist stickers from far-right rivals, the British Movement, appeared on lamp-posts. The Hitler-worshippers of Column 88 sent threatening personal messages to local anti-fascist activists, written in blood.&nbsp;</p><p>But it was the blood of minority communities that flowed in East London in 1978. Two weeks before Altab Ali’s murder, 10 year old Kenneth Singh was stabbed to death by racists in Canning Town.</p><p>Less than two months later<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Ishaque Ali died of heart failure after a vicious attack by racists.&nbsp;</p><p>In September 1978 the National Front moved its headquarters from the suburbs to Shoreditch in East London.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Threatening &nbsp;messages were sent to local anti-fascist activists, written in blood</p><p>Two prominent politicians had further inflamed the atmosphere. Tory opposition leader Margaret Thatcher told a TV interviewer in January 1978, that people were “afraid that this country might be rather swamped by people with a different culture”.&nbsp;</p><p>Fear of being “swamped” would make people “hostile to those coming in.”&nbsp;She explicitly confirmed her desire to bring National Front voters “very much back” to the Tories.</p><p>Enoch Powell, by now an ageing Ulster Unionist, was still invited to address Tory branches on immigration. On 10 June 1978 he told supporters in Billericay, Essex: “Violence does not break upon such a scene because it is willed, or contrived… it lies in the inevitable course of events.”</p><p>He predicted that within 20 years one third of Britain’s inner cities would be controlled by an alien population, “which by reason of the the strongest impulses and… human nature, neither can, nor will be identified with the rest… those who… feared they would be swamped… will be driven by equally strong impulses and interests to resist and prevent it.”</p><p>The very next day 150 National Front-supporting white youths, mainly skinheads, translated these words into action. They rampaged down Brick Lane chanting race hate slogans, throwing bottles, bricks and rubble through shop windows. Bengali youths resisted, kettled 20 of the perpetrators and held them until the police arrived. Only three were arrested.</p><p>At the same time two heartening events occurred: young people resisted and Bengali shopkeepers received support from neighbouring Jewish shopkeepers.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/6.antinfdemo1978.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/6.antinfdemo1978.jpg" alt="Protestors with placards. Placards say anti-nazi league, stop the nazis" title="" width="460" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Anti-fascist groups join Bengali youth, 1978. Image by Alan Denney, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.</span></span></span></p><h2><strong><br /><br />“There will be fewer cases of friction if races lived separately”</strong><strong>&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;</strong></h2><p>Julie Begum was born in 1968 to Bengali immigrants on the Chicksand Estate off Brick Lane. She remembers what it was like growing up in Tower Hamlets during this period.</p><p>“You went to school, you went home, you didn’t hang around, you did your shopping and you hoped that you were not going to be attacked on your way there or back.”&nbsp;</p><p>Families like Julie’s were gradually getting places on local housing estates<strong>,&nbsp;</strong>but one social&nbsp;worker who worked in the area at the time, says: “Asians form a mere 2% of inhabitants in the more pleasant Spitalfields estates… older more tawdry blocks now have Asian populations of 50% or more.”&nbsp;</p><p>Discrimination by landlords and racial harassment on run-down estates prompted the creation of the Bengali Housing Action Group which campaigned for better housing and supported Bengali families who felt they had no option but to squat. Local white left wing squatters supported them.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Margaret Thatcher said people were afraid Britain&nbsp;might be swamped by people with a different culture</p><p>Altab Ali’s murder motivated the Conservative-controlled Greater London Council (GLC) to address Bengalis’ safety concerns and housing needs.&nbsp;</p><p>Without consulting properly, the GLC prepared a hare-brained scheme to designate some estates Bengali-only. The GLC’s Labour minority was split. They wanted to protect Bengalis from racism but were worried about isolating them further. The media ran sensationalist headlines:&nbsp;</p><p>“Labour split over GLC Ghetto plan”&nbsp;<em>Evening Standard</em></p><p>“Time Bomb in Ghetto”&nbsp;<em>Sunday Times</em></p><p>And the&nbsp;<em>Daily Telegraph&nbsp;</em>liked the idea: “…there will be fewer cases of friction if races lived separately”. </p><p>Jean Tatham, then GLC Housing Chair, defended the plan at an angry community meeting at the Montefiore Centre in Hanbury Street<strong>.&nbsp;</strong>She told residents that<strong>&nbsp;</strong>she would make the same offer to all-white and all-Caribbean groups. Eventually the plan was dropped.</p><h2><strong>Blood on the streets</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2><p><span>Shortly after Tosir Ali’s murder back in 1970, Cllr. Solly Kaye, a Jewish communist who fought fascists in the 1930s East End, told a protest meeting:&nbsp;</span><span>“The purveyors of racialism can be defeated by united action… it would be the greatest error if the struggle were left to the immigrant organisations to bear the brunt of the fight.”&nbsp;</span></p><p>That unity across ethnic and religious divides showed itself when racial violence peaked in the East End between 1976-78. The mainly white trade unionists of Bethnal Green and Stepney Trades Council began compiling a dossier of racist attacks. They gathered information from Avenues Unlimited, a local youth project, Tower Hamlets Law Centre, the Bangladesh Welfare Association, and Brick Lane Mosque.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/3.bloodonthestreets_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/3.bloodonthestreets_0.JPG" alt="Report with cover. Title reads Blood on the streets" title="" width="250" height="366" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dossier of racist attacks in London's East End, 1978. Image by David Rosenberg </span></span></span></p><p>The mosque’s secretary, Gulam Mustafa, who was Altab Ali’s employer on Hanbury Street, recorded 33 incidents in the first four months of 1978. The dossier was published as a report in September that year with the title<strong>&nbsp;</strong>“Blood on the Streets”. It&nbsp;listed hammer attacks, stabbings, punctured lungs, slashed faces, airgun shot wounds, people beaten with bricks and sticks and knocked unconscious in broad daylight.&nbsp;</p><p>Trade unions were well represented in the Anti-Nazi League formed in 1977. Just four days before Altab<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Ali’s murder, the league had marched from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park on the Hackney/Tower Hamlets borders<strong>.&nbsp;</strong>There the marchers combined with Rock Against Racism, which was formed in 1976. They held an anti-racist carnival that brought black and white youth together in a crowd of 80,000 people. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Bengali victims of racist attacks found themselves charged with carrying offensive weapons, and subjected to immigration checks.</p><p>The dossier excoriated police failures to investigate attacks and protect victims. Bengali victims of racist attacks found themselves charged with carrying offensive weapons, and subjected to immigration checks.&nbsp;</p><p>On 13 August 1976, when six Bengalis were attacked by 25 youths in Brick Lane, no attackers were charged but one victim was. In response the Anti-Racist Committee of Asians in East London, formed earlier<strong>&nbsp;</strong>that year, held large meetings at Brick Lane’s Naz Cinema, and organised sit-down protests outside local police stations.</p><p>Eventually the<strong>&nbsp;</strong>local police opened a mini-police station for reporting racist incidents, staffed by a police officer and an interpreter, at one end of Brick Lane. But the police failed to properly consult the community before opening the station.</p><p>If they had, people would have told them to locate the reporting station at the other end of Brick Lane where local skinheads regularly gathered before launching attacks. Locals were furious and protested against the police’s misplaced intitiative.&nbsp;<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p><h2><strong>A new generation of young cockney Bengalis&nbsp;</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/5.antiNFdemo1978.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/5.antiNFdemo1978.jpg" alt="Police officers line up in front of protestors on Brick Lane" title="" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protesting Altab Ali's death, Brick Lane 1978. Image by Alan Denney, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</span></span></span></p><div>The growing unity against racism across East London communities was expressed after a further tragedy, which took place almost a year after Altab Ali’s death on St Georges’ Day 1979.&nbsp;</div><p>The National Front announced it would march through the mainly Sikh area of Southall, west London. East London anti-racists joined a&nbsp;counter-protest. One of their number did not return.&nbsp;</p><p>The counter protest was brutally policed. Special Patrol Group units were especially violent. They operated in groups of six and were reputed to use illegal weaponry. Blair Peach, a 30 year old New Zealander who taught in Bow, was struck on the head and suffered a fractured skull. He was rushed to hospital but never regained consciousness.</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">10,000 of us, black, white, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jew gathered in the bleak East London cemetery for Blair Peach</span></p><p>Trades Council secretary, Dan Jones, recalls the late 1970s in the East End as “full of death, marches, and funeral processions… I remember the massive outburst of grief and the dignified defiance by Bengali workers that followed [Altab Ali’s] murder. I remember my friend Blair Peach… who died at the hands of the police in the Southall disturbances. 10,000 of us, black, white, Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jew gathered in the bleak East London cemetery for his burial.”&nbsp;</p><p>But Jones also saw positive signs: “A new generation of young cockney Bengalis was emerging, no longer prepared to cower in fear or to accept discriminatory treatment.” They had “begun to make a fundamental political and social impact on our area.”</p><h2>40 years on… gentrification and gangs&nbsp;</h2><p>Forty years on, xenophobia is again on the rise nationally and in East London Bengalis face new challenges. Shamsuddin Shams, now a Brick Lane restaurateur, maintains contact with Altab Ali’s family when he visits Bangladesh. But here he feels the pressure of competing businesses in East London,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>an area that is fast gentrifying.&nbsp;</p><p>The streets to the west of Brick Lane, which once housed Bengalis in multiple-occupancy flats above workshops,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>have become wealthy white ghettos.&nbsp;</p><p>Shams is proud that the next generation of Bengalis in East London took education very seriously and established themselves in more diverse jobs than their parents, in pharmacy, medicine, banking and IT. Though many of his former clothing worker colleagues still labour long hours, several of them driving minicabs. And he worries about the<strong>&nbsp;</strong>young people now seeking their fortune in gang-related crime.</p><p>Farhana Zaman, a Unite Community trade union and Labour Party activist, settled in Tower Hamlets as a child in the early 1980s. She praises the Bangladeshi community’s contribution to the borough’s cultural life and the growth of Bengali newspapers and TV stations, but would love to see “more inclusion and communities mixing with each other”.&nbsp;</p><p>She says that “crimes and tragedies” in Tower Hamlets today are more likely to be “gang-related” than about racism.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>But racism is still a problem in the area. Zaman<strong>&nbsp;</strong>highlights racism against EU nationals and Islamophobic attacks that frequently happen on public transport. She believes that the main pressures the community faces are cuts to youth services, and gentrification, which is increasingly pushing Bangladeshis out of Tower Hamlets.</p><p>Shahriar Bin Ali, a founder member of the Bangladeshi Workers Council, says, “Young individuals and families can’t afford to live there. The older generation are losing their known neighbourhood and comfort zone and feeling isolated.” He identifies “severe institutional racism in East London”, adding that, “all the recent economic developments have ignored the presence of ethnic communities rooted here.” &nbsp;</p><p>He worries that young people have “shifted towards extreme faith beliefs while progressive cultural and political practice has become marginalised.”&nbsp;</p><p>To overcome these problems, the Bangladeshi Workers Council wants to revive the assertive grassroots activism and fighting sprit of the 1970s. That spirit will be recalled as people gather in Altab Ali Park at the annual commemoration this week. They will celebrate their achievements and take justifiable pride in having overcome the difficulties they confronted then, while knowing that they are once again facing uncertain times.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/1.altabaliprotest_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/1.altabaliprotest_1.jpg" alt="Pamphlet which reads Commemorating Altab Ali Day 4th May. Against racism and fascism " title="" width="460" height="664" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Remembering Altab Ali, United Platform Against Racism and Fascism 2012. Image of pamphlet, David Rosenberg. </span></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>The annual&nbsp;Altab Ali commemoration takes place 6pm Friday 4th May, at Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel Road (corner of White Church Lane), E1 7QR</em></p><p><em>On Wednesday 6 June 2018, LSE Sociology and Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies present: “Race Violence and the City: Remembering Altab Ali, Interrogating the Present”, 10.30 to 5pm London School of Economics. Admission free. <a href="https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/race-violence-the-city-remembering-altab-ali-interrogating-the-present-tickets-45435416554?__twitter_impression=true%2Famp&amp;__twitter_impression=true">Book through Eventbrite</a>.<br /><br /></em></p><hr /><p><em>Edited by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/wasi-daniju-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/remembering-sarah-reed">Remembering Sarah Reed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jenny-bourne/seeds-of-post-brexit-racial-violence-lie-in-government-policy">The seeds of post-Brexit racial violence lie in government policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/kojo-kyerewaa/london-2014-three-police-officers-one-black-boy-what-next">London 2014: Three police officers. One black boy. What next?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kojo-kyerewaa/14-year-old-black-boy-on-his-way-home-from-youth-choir">A 14 year old black boy on his way home from youth choir. . .</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Racism in Britain Shine A Light David Rosenberg Fri, 04 May 2018 07:00:31 +0000 David Rosenberg 117651 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Amber Rudd resigns, the anti-migrant machine works on https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/amber-rudd-resigns-anti-migrant-propaganda-machine-lives-on <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hardline policies have failed in their stated aim of reducing immigration. Is their true purpose to impress particular voters?&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Textbody"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AMBER_RUDD.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Home Secretary Amber Rudd 12 April 2018"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AMBER_RUDD.jpg" alt="" title="Home Secretary Amber Rudd 12 April 2018" width="460" height="347" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Amber Rudd 17 days before her resignation as Home Secretary. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p class="Textbody">The Windrush scandal and Amber Rudd’s failures have dominated headlines, but Theresa May’s anti-migrant&nbsp;<a href="https://corporatewatch.org/the-hostile-environment-turning-the-uk-into-a-nation-of-border-cops-2/">“hostile environment” policies</a>&nbsp;have been causing misery for years.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">It was in 2012 that May, then Home Secretary,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/9291483/Theresa-May-interview-Were-going-to-give-illegal-migrants-a-really-hostile-reception.html">made public her plan</a>&nbsp;to make Britain a “hostile environment” for people who have “no right to be here”.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody"><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/the-hostile-environment-turning-the-uk-into-a-nation-of-border-cops-2/">Measures would include</a>&nbsp;compulsory ID checks in hospitals, a series of bans on migrants defined as illegal by the Home Office: they couldn’t rent homes, open bank accounts, obtain driving licences or work.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">Schools, NHS service providers, police forces and local authorities would work with immigration enforcement, sharing data and information to track down and deport anyone suspected of breaking immigration rules.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">Despite this the government came no closer to its’ stated aim of “getting control” over immigration. The&nbsp;<a href="https://corporatewatch.org/deportation-charter-flights-collective-expulsion-in-2017-2/">mass&nbsp;</a><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/deportation-charter-flights-collective-expulsion-in-2017-2/">deportation</a><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/deportation-charter-flights-collective-expulsion-in-2017-2/">s</a>, NHS passport checks,&nbsp;<a href="https://corporatewatch.org/snitches-stings-leaks-how-immigration-enforcement-works-2/">workplace raids</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://corporatewatch.org/court-victory-against-st-mungos-and-thames-reach-rough-sleeper-raids-what-next/">rough-sleeper round-ups</a>&nbsp;and other nasty features of the hostile environment haven’t driven down immigration.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">What then, was the point?</p><p class="Textbody">It’s a question tackled in depth by Corporate Watch’s latest report <a href="https://corporatewatch.org/who-is-immigration-policy-for-full-report/">“Who is immigration policy for?</a>” Our research exposes the different roles played by politicians, media, right-wing hate preachers and corporate power in creating an atmosphere of hate and fear, fuelling conditions for a rise in anti-migrant feeling and xenophobia.&nbsp;</p><h2><span>Standing on the shoulders of Labour Home Secretaries</span></h2><p class="Textbody">None of this is new. The hostile environment, which seeks to turn us all into immigration informers, builds on the legacy of Tony Blair’s Labour Party.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">Between 1999 and 2009, Labour governments passed five major immigration acts, which dramatically expanded the immigration detention and deportation system, and dismantled asylum rights.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody"><span class="mag-quote-right">A long line of Home Secretaries made their names by rolling out ever tougher measures against “illegal migrants”</span></p><p>Officially, the aim of these policies was always to reduce immigration and restrict entry into the UK to the “right” immigrants.&nbsp;</p><p>Yet net migration to the UK has been positive&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/november2017#further-characteristics-of-long-term-international-migrants">every year since 1994</a>, peaking at over 300,000 in 2014 and 2015.&nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile the ineffectiveness of vicious Immigration Enforcement measures is an open secret among Home Office officials.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd resigned over the Windrush scandal and for claiming ignorance of her own officials’ methods. But stories of departmental chaos are nothing new.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody"><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2006/may/23/immigrationpolicy.immigration1">Three rounds</a> of rebranding and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/mar/26/uk-border-agency-broken-up">restructuring</a> since 2006 haven’t changed the culture of an institution with extremely low morale, whose officials are well aware of their lack of impact.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">The Independent Chief Inspector’s&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inspection-report-on-illegal-working-december-2015">report on illegal working from 2015</a>&nbsp;quotes Home Office managers. He writes,&nbsp;“Immigration Enforcement would never have the resources to resolve the overall problem. They described it as ‘not a realistic working model’.”</p><p class="Textbody">Even the most extreme hostile environment measures fail as an immigration deterrent. Instead these policies are dramatically reshaping aspects of Britain’s civil society and&nbsp;<a href="https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/project/does-immigration-enforcement-matter-diem/">research suggests</a>&nbsp;that many migrants do feel their bite. They live with high levels of fear and anxiety. But there is little evidence that this pain actually pushes many people to leave. The reasons people migrate to the UK are complex, influenced by conditions faced at home, rather than levels of hostility from the Home Office.&nbsp;</p><h2>Spectacle and audience</h2><p class="Textbody">If the numbers aren’t falling, what drives these vicious ineffective attacks?</p><p class="Textbody">Immigration policy is a spectacle, an emotive performance. It rarely targets&nbsp;<em>overall&nbsp;</em>migration levels. Instead the focus is on controlling vulnerable “low value” scapegoats: “asylum-seekers”, so-called “illegals”, and others who fall between the cracks.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">This suits the demands of big business. One example is City lobby group&nbsp;<a href="http://www.londonfirst.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/London-First-immigration-proposal_300617.pdf">London First</a>, whose meeting with Amber Rudd was cancelled last Thursday. London First advocates liberalised migration controls for students and workers on the one hand, “robust enforcement to clampdown” on “low value migration” on the other.<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p class="Textbody">This performance, immigration policy as a spectacle, is designed for a narrow audience. Our report shows that attacks on migrant scapegoats are primarily directed at two groups of older, white “target publics”.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">One is made up of alienated working-class people hit hard by poverty and social tension, often living in run-down neighbourhoods in the North or Midlands. The other are comfortable “middle Englanders”.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/ImmigrationEnforcement.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/ImmigrationEnforcement.jpg" alt="White van with immigration enforcement written on the side" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Home Office teams on the prowl. Image by kenjonbro. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0</span></span></span></p><p class="Textbody">Whereas the first have personal economic and social troubles they blame on migrant scapegoats, the second often have little contact with migrants at all. But what both share is a generalised anxiety about migration as a “cultural threat”. Together they only make up about 20 per cent of the population but, in the UK’s electoral system, they can be pivotal voters, particularly when centrist governments feel a threat from the “populist” right.</p><p class="Textbody">Our research examines the ways media and politicians collaborate to court these target publics and, in the long run, shape their attitudes.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">While it has deep roots, the tempo of anti-migrant media-politics picked up during the Blair years. There was the 1999 panic whipped up about&nbsp;<a href="https://www.article19.org/data/files/pdfs/publications/refugees-what-s-the-story-case-study-.pdf">Sangatte</a>, a refugee camp in Calais, France. Then Home Secretary David Blunkett’s revival of Thatcher’s&nbsp;<a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/1949863.stm">“swamping”</a>&nbsp;discourse. The time Blair’s cabinet&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2004/may/24/uk.pressandpublishing">jointly planned</a>&nbsp;an “asylum week” of scare stories and policy announcements with The Sun newspaper.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Labour developed a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781403939166">conscious strategy</a>&nbsp;of scapegoating asylum-seekers to “neutralise” the electoral threat from the BNP.</p><p class="Textbody">Labour developed a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.palgrave.com/us/book/9781403939166">conscious strategy</a>&nbsp;of scapegoating asylum-seekers to “neutralise” the electoral threat from the BNP. The same moves play out today, with UKIP taking the BNP’s role. Since 1999 surveys report the proportion of people concerned about immigration as an important issue has doubled. Meanwhile, a long line of Home Secretaries made their names by rolling out ever tougher measures against “illegal migrants” – as well as the other undesirable spectres caricatured and demonised in the media.</p><h2>Beyond the “public debate”</h2><p class="Textbody">How can pro-migrant campaigners counter this propaganda machine?&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">Our analysis calls into question some popular approaches. Campaigners often aim to push alternative views and voices into the liberal media sphere, trying to influence the “public debate” on migration.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">But there is no “public debate on immigration”. This idea is a charade that obscures how power works. There is no&nbsp;<em>one&nbsp;</em>public, but many different people having many different conversations. And it’s not a debate, it’s a propaganda war. Fought with emotive stories, not facts and reasons. Conservative campaign guru&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&amp;v=H_YareK6WKk">Lynton Crosby says</a>: “When reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins”.</p><p class="Textbody">Right-wing politicians and propagandists, at least the clever ones, are well aware of this. They understand who they need to talk to, and how they need to talk to them. This isn’t to say we should copy their strategies, as indeed our aims and values are very different. But we do need to question a default campaigning approach based on getting positive messages – interview comments, opinion pieces, media-focused stunts, or reports like this one – into the liberal media and left-leaning parts of Facebook.&nbsp;</p><p class="Textbody">When the current scandal blows over, the raids, detentions and deportations continue. To strategise effectively, first we need to understand how the enemy works.</p><hr /><p><span>Click&nbsp;</span><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/who-is-immigration-policy-for-full-report/">here</a><span>&nbsp;to read the new Corporate Watch report “Who is immigration policy for?”</span></p><p><em><span>More</span><span> Corporate Watch reports on the hostile environment:</span></em></p><p class="Textbody"><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/news/2017/apr/08/hostile-environment-turning-uk-nation-border-cops">The Hostile Environment: turning the UK into a nation of border cops&nbsp;</a></p><p><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/news/2016/aug/30/snitches-stings-leaks-how-immigration-enforcement-works">Snitches, Stings and Leaks: how immigration enforcement works</a></p><p><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/news/2017/mar/05/rough-sleeper-immigration-raids-charity-collaboration-st-mungos-thames-reach">The Round-up: rough sleeper immigration raids and charity collaboration</a></p><p><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/iraqi-deportations-the-airlines-helping-the-home-office-deport-refugees-to-war-zones-2/">Iraqi Deportations: the airlines helping the Home Office deport refugees to war zones</a></p><p><a href="https://corporatewatch.org/carceral-colonialism-britains-plan-to-build-a-prison-wing-in-nigeria/">Carceral Colonialism: Britain’s plan to build a prison wing in Nigeria</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Edited by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/child-locked-up-by-mistake-for-62-days-at-adult-immigration-jail">Child locked up ‘by mistake’ for 62 days at adult immigration jail</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phoebe-braithwaite/refuse-retract-resist-boycott-schools-census">Refuse, retract, resist: boycott the schools census </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/mia-light/do-your-parenting-by-skype-uk-tells-fathers-being-deported-to-jama">Do your parenting by Skype, UK tells fathers being deported to Jamaica</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/nadia-graham/5-reasons-why-we-stopped-ukgov-deportation-flight-to-nigeria-la">5 reasons why we stopped a UKgov deportation flight to Nigeria last night </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Immigration detention and removal in the UK Corporate Watch Mon, 30 Apr 2018 08:17:06 +0000 Corporate Watch 117565 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Revisiting the Prison Industrial Complex https://www.opendemocracy.net/romarilyn-ralston/revisiting-prison-industrial-complex <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Authoritarian capitalism and the prison industrial complex is a two-tiered tyrannical system designed to enslave through mass incarceration. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Parchman_Penal_Farm._Female_prisoners_sewing..png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/640px-Parchman_Penal_Farm._Female_prisoners_sewing..png" alt="lead lead " title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Parchman Penal Farm. Female prisoners sewing, circa 1930. Flickr/Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>More than 60% of women in state prisons in the US have a child under the age of 18. On any given day, over 2.7 million, or 1 in 28 children have a parent in prison. Children with incarcerated parents are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, poor academic performance, school absenteeism/drop out, poverty, homelessness, difficulty transitioning to basic adult roles, and physical health problems including migraines, asthma, and high cholesterol. </p><p>Children with incarcerated parents are 6-9 times more likely to become incarcerated themselves. Black children are seven-and-a-half times more likely than White children to have a parent in prison, and Latino children are two-and-a-half times more likely to experience this family dynamic.</p> <p>In 2000, in <a href="https://www.colorlines.com/articles/masked-racism-reflections-prison-industrial-complex"><em>Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison Industrial Complex</em></a>, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angela_Davis">Angela Yvonne Davis</a> examined the infamy of the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC), a term first coined, maybe by Angela Davis herself, in the late 1990’s. What is the PIC? It is a term used to describe the overlapping interests of government and&nbsp;industry&nbsp;that use surveillance, policing and imprisonment as solutions to economic, social and political problems. Davis stated: </p><p>“Prison privatization is the most obvious instance of capital's current movement toward the prison industry. While government-run prisons are often in gross violation of international human rights standards, private prisons are even less accountable. In March 1998, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest US private prison company, claimed 54,944 beds in 68 facilities under contract or development in the US, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Following the global trend of subjecting more women to public punishment, CCA opened a women's prison outside Melbourne. </p> <p>Private prison companies are only the most visible component of the increasing corporatization of punishment. Many corporations whose products we consume on a daily basis have learned that prison labor can be as profitable as third world labor power exploited by US-based global corporations. Both relegate formerly unionized workers to joblessness and many even wind up in prison. Some of the companies that use prison labor are IBM, Motorola, Compaq, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Microsoft, and Boeing. But it is not only the hi-tech industries that reap the profits of prison labor. </p> <p>The California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) uses inmate labor to build, grow, and manufacture products for state agencies, institutions and schools. Products such as furniture, food products &amp; agriculture, clothing, bedding, shoes &amp; boots, and more. The 2016 revenue earned by PIA was approximately 225M, while inmates work pay ranges from .32-$1 per hour. </p> <ul><li>PIA Mission Statement: CALPIA is a self-supporting, customer-focused business that reduces recidivism, increases prison safety, and enhances public safety by providing offenders productive work and training opportunities.</li><li>Vision Statement: Changing offenders' lives through innovative job training for a safer California.</li></ul> <p>While these messages may be the mission and vision of CalPIA, the training provided seldom if ever leads to work post-release. Unemployment and underemployment are the biggest barriers to successful reentry.”</p> <p>Davis continued: </p> <p>“Nordstrom department stores sell jeans that are marketed as "Prison Blues", as well as t-shirts and jackets made in Oregon prisons. The advertising slogan for these clothes is "made on the inside to be worn on the outside". Maryland prisoners inspect glass bottles and jars used by Revlon and Pierre Cardin, and schools throughout the world buy graduation caps and gowns made by South Carolina prisoners. "For private business", write Eve Goldberg and Linda Evans (a political prisoner inside the Federal Correctional Institution at Dublin, California) "prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers' compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for airlines, raise hogs, shovel manure, make circuit boards, limousines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria's Secret all at a fraction of the cost of `free labor'".</p> <p>As a youth, I was arrested and convicted of a crime and sentenced to life in prison.&nbsp; I served 23 years at the California Institution for women in Corona, CA.&nbsp; When I was first incarcerated in 1988, the women’s prison in Corona was the largest women’s prison in the world. Since the 1980s prison expansion in California CIW has become second to the California Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla which opened in 1991. We often saw tours given to visitors from other countries who were looking to CIW as a model to emulate. Many countries now look away from the American carceral system as a model, seeing prison expansion and mass incarceration of its citizens as disgraceful and a human rights violation.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>CIW was built in 1952 to hold approximately 500 women. When I arrived, there were 2800 female bodied prisoners packed into converted dayrooms, custodial boiler rooms, doubled bunked cells, and the auditorium.&nbsp; From the vast number of women locked up, it was clear that CDC was only interested in human capital as a means of profiteering. The majority of women behind bars were convicted of drug-related and property crimes. Black women made up 47% of the population in 1988 and continued to grow through the late 1990s. </p> <p>By the time I was released in 2011 Black women made up approximately 37% of the population behind bars a decrease of 10% but still a disproportionate number in relationship to the general population. Thanks to prison abolitionists, criminal justice reformists and policy changes, black women are less impacted today. However, the damage has been done and the cycle of generational poverty and incarceration is still high for black Americans. </p> <p>To further illustrate these remarks Davis points out: </p> <p>“To deliver up bodies destined for profitable punishment, the political economy of prisons relies on racialized assumptions of criminality – such as images of black welfare mothers reproducing criminal children – and on racist practices in arrest, conviction, and sentencing patterns. Colored bodies constitute the main human raw material in this vast experiment to disappear the major social problems of our time. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages. Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. </p> <p>“But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become a big business. Once the aura of magic is stripped away from the imprisonment solution, what is revealed is racism, class bias, and the parasitic seduction of capitalist profit. The prison industrial system materially and morally impoverishes its inhabitants and devours the social wealth needed to address the very problems that have led to spiraling numbers of prisoners.” </p> <h2>The prison industrial complex is a business!</h2> <p>The impact and intersection of race, mass incarceration, state violence and authoritarian capitalism can be seen and felt in places like Ferguson, Missouri.&nbsp; After the murder of Michael Brown, Jr, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri by Darren Wilson, a white police office, the world witnessed the use of military force and weaponry on US soil against peaceful protesters and on American citizens like never before. </p> <p>I was living in North County St. Louis when all this happened.&nbsp; I protested, attended rallies, and volunteered with the Ferguson Commission, a body of 16 local leaders. The charge was to address the underlying root cause that led to the unrest in the wake of Michael Brown’s death and to publish a report with transformative policy recommendations for making the region stronger and a better place for everyone to live and to guide the community in charting a new path toward healing and positive change for all residents of the St. Louis region.&nbsp; </p> <p>We know the 2015 report concluded what most reports have concluded after investigating the cause of unrest in Black communities over the past century (i.e., East St. Louis (1917), Watts (1965), Detroit (1967), and Los Angeles (1992)). Strategies for healing racial wounds, dismantling structural racism, and promoting racial and ethnic equity are needed but never produced. </p> <p>The continuous mistreatment, torture, terrorism, and murder of Blacks in America as sanctioned by State violence and white supremacy have been normalized by authoritarian capitalism.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Not much has changed in St. Louis since August 9, 2014. On September 15, 2017 another White police officer (ex-police officer) Jason Stockley was acquitted for killing Anthony Lamar Smith (24 yrs. old) after being caught on tape stating: “I’m going to kill the nigger,” despite the investigation concluding that he had planted a firearm in Smith’s car. </p><p>Authoritarian capitalism and the prison industrial complex is a two-tiered tyrannical system designed to enslave through mass incarceration. The white imagination that sees black people as less than human, sees poor people as slaves, and profit as justice. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/CaliforniaInstitutionforWomen.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/CaliforniaInstitutionforWomen.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>California Institution for Women, Aerial View,2004. Wikicommons/ California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/kerry-shakaboona-marshall-john-bergen/how-prisoners-organized-to-elect-just-district-">How prisoners organized to elect a just District Attorney in Philadelphia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/melissa-hellman/town-that-adopted-trauma-informed-care-and-saw-decrease-in-crime-and-">The town that adopted trauma-informed care—and saw a decrease in crime and suspension</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/molly-rowan-leach/facing-up-to-our-shadow-side-with-compassion">Facing up to our shadow side with compassion</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/lorraine-atkinson/violent-and-dangerous-places-rise-in-prison-suicides-in-en">Violent and dangerous places: the rise in prison suicides in England and Wales</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/fail-and-prosper-how-privatisation-really-works">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/neal-curtis/dreadful-symmetry-kill-boxes-racism-and-us-sovereign-power-in-digital-age">Dreadful symmetry: kill boxes, racism and US sovereign power in the digital age</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Economics </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> ShineALight United States Economics Equality International politics Romarilyn Ralston Thu, 05 Apr 2018 17:29:26 +0000 Romarilyn Ralston 117071 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Mothers and children unlawfully housed in Sheffield B&Bs for years https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson-violet-dickenson/mothers-and-children-unlawfully-housed-in-shef <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women and young children routinely placed in shared hostels with vulnerable homeless men.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/EarlMarshall_Guest_House.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Earl Marshall Guest House"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/EarlMarshall_Guest_House.JPG" alt="" title="Earl Marshall Guest House" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Earl Marshall Guest House (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Mothers with young children have spent months on end in Bed &amp; Breakfast accommodation in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, living alongside vulnerable homeless single men. Women forced to share bathrooms and kitchens with men they don’t know tell us they’ve faced intimidation and racist abuse. They say they fear for themselves and their children.</p><p> Councils are obliged by law to avoid placing pregnant women or families with children in B&amp;Bs except as a last resort, and then for <a href="https://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/homelessness/rules/emergency_housing_if_you_are_homeless">no longer than six weeks</a>. But we at South Yorkshire Migration &amp; Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG) know of women and children housed unlawfully in potentially dangerous B&amp;B accommodation for months, and some for years.</p> <p>At a B&amp;B on Grimesthorpe Road, Sheffield, mothers with children have been housed alongside vulnerable homeless single men.</p> <p>Called Earl Marshall Guest House, the B&amp;B is in Burngreave, to the north of the city, which has housed incoming migrants, workers in the steel industry, over the last sixty years, people from Yemen, Kurdistan, Pakistan. And in recent years from Central and Eastern Europe. The steel industry has almost disappeared and Burngreave, with its streets of redbrick terraced housing, is one of Sheffield’s poorest districts. </p> <p>We first met Esther at the Earl Marshall with her young daughter one sunny September afternoon in 2017. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Buggy_Esther_room.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Esther’s room"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Buggy_Esther_room.JPG" alt="" title="Esther’s room" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Esther's room (John Grayson)</span></span></span>For two months, mother and daughter, aged six, had shared one small cramped room, with bunkbeds and hardly any storage space. “Come in, there’s not much room in here to sit down,” Esther said. “I have to keep the buggy in here. It’s not safe to leave it by the front door.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Families with more children had bigger rooms, but hers was normal for a mother and child, Esther said. “I have our food in here, I can’t store it in the kitchen, there are no locked cupboards and about 20 people use that kitchen. There is only one cooker in there.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Esther, a survivor of trafficking from West Africa, said she didn’t feel safe at the B&amp;B. “I am frightened for my daughter,” she told us. “The man next door is very noisy, bangs on the wall at night — I think he uses drugs in there.” </p> <p>She said: “The worst thing is having to queue for toilets and showers with the men, it is not right for my little girl.”</p> <p>Her only income was the £20 a week she received from Sheffield social services for her daughter. “My social worker gives me vouchers for the food bank and she got them to provide a fridge in my room,” she said.<span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/EarlMarshallkitchen_twenty_people.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A kitchen for 20"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/EarlMarshallkitchen_twenty_people.JPG" alt="" title="A kitchen for 20" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A kitchen for 20 people (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Storeroom_bedroom.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Storeroom_bedroom.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The ‘box room’ (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Esther worried about other children in the house. Were they getting enough to eat? “They don’t serve breakfast unless you ask the woman,” she said. “Then it is never before eight, which means the children here who go to school have to eat cereals and milk bought by parents.” </p> <p>In a corridor we met an agitated woman dressed only in her nightie, who said excitedly: “I will be leaving soon, I will be moving out.” She opened her door to a small box-room with little natural light on a sunny afternoon, one tiny window obscured by a curtain. She said that’s where she was living.</p> <p>Other women forced to spend time at the Earl Marshall also feared for their children’s safety.</p> <p>Carol lived there for a year from February 2015. Like Esther she had survived trafficking from West Africa, had been turned down for asylum and so lost her financial support from the National Asylum Support Service.</p><p>“I was sharing a single bed with my daughter Sophie, no money and living with friends,” she told us. “They asked us to leave, and we went to the council as homeless.”&nbsp;</p> <p>We asked Carol what she felt when she first arrived at the Earl Marshall. “I hated it and did not want to stay,” Carol said, “but Sophie saw the bunk beds, and after months of sharing a small bed with me, thought it was great.”</p> <p>Carol told us: “It was worse at weekends. There were drunken men outside and inside, amongst the guests of the B&amp;B as well as in our part. An American man who ended up in our part on a very busy weekend told me ‘This place is not safe for the kids. I think it is the cheapest place in Sheffield.’</p> <p>“On those weekends all the mothers would gather with our children in the biggest of our rooms and stay there all weekend, making sure there was one of us with the children wherever they were.</p> <p>“While I was at the Earl Marshall there was a Chinese woman with a baby, and a woman from Cameroon with her child. She hated it and went back to Cameroon. Single refugee women came but only stayed one or two nights. There was a man with five children, all in the same room.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>“No Recourse to Public Funds”</h2> <p>All three refugee families we spoke to from the Earl Marshall had found themselves labelled “No recourse to public funds”. In a letter to us in May 2016 the leader of Sheffield Council, Cllr. Julie Dore, explained what that means.</p> <p>“Public funds are defined and include all benefits and homelessness help from the Housing Department. This means that the Local Authority’s Housing department cannot provide accommodation under the housing laws.” </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Showers_EarlMarshall_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Showers at Earl Marshall"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Showers_EarlMarshall_0.JPG" alt="" title="Showers at Earl Marshall" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" width="240" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Showers at Earl Marshall</span></span></span>But, she added, “Children’s Social Care may still owe a duty to the children.”</p> <p>This comes under the Children Act 1989 (Section 17), Children in Need, for whom money that is provided is not considered to be public funds.</p><p> Dore went on: “We explore a number of options with such families including enabling them to return to their home country if they wish and it is safe to do so.” </p> <p>These Sheffield families receive only the equivalent of UK Child Benefit (around £20 for the first child). For the mothers, social workers gave Carol and Esther vouchers to take to the local food bank, and £5 each week to pay their Earl Marshall laundry bills. </p> <p>“They treat us bad,” said Carol. “Sometimes the bedclothes and washing were not collected on time, I had to change the beds and take the washing myself, it was difficult with a schoolchild to keep her clean. Breakfast was never till eight o’clock, too late for my child to get to school.”</p> <p>Dinah spent five months in the Earl Marshall with her daughter Adele who was six years old. She told us: “They would only wash bedclothes and school uniform in there, other things I washed by hand.”</p> <p>Waiting for toilets and showers were the worst times for the families. Carol said some of the men “asked us for money and called us racist names. Every time we had to wait, then we had to clean the toilet, so we could use it.”</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Waiting for toilets and showers were the worst times. The men asked for money and called us racist names.</p> <p>Dinah told us: “The showers were locked from 8pm to 9am. Waiting in the queue we heard screaming and banging doors and a naked man came in and joined the queue. I decided to buy a potty for our room so that we felt safe.”</p> <p>When she spoke to us a few weeks ago Dinah had been in the UK asylum system since 2001, 17 years. “I tried to become a student, but someone stole my passport and took my money. I was in a bad abusive relationship and ended up in a house rented by my church. They wanted to buy another place and evicted me and Adele, then we ended up in the Earl Marshall.</p> <p>“Adele had chicken pox when they told us we had to go to the Earl Marshall and I thought she would spread it to the other children. They told me ‘You can either go in there, or we will take Adele into care’.”</p> <p>Dinah remembered two Chinese women with two children each, girls and boys, in the Earl Marshall. “A student came with her small baby, she decided to leave the country. There was a lady, she was out of her mind, she kept saying, ‘I can hear the voice of my boyfriend’, over and over again.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>Direct action</h2> <p>Earl Marshall managers spotted us taking photographs from outside the B&amp;B in September 2017. Esther asked us not to identify her in anything we reported. “I don’t want them to make me homeless again,” she said. And so it was November before we wrote to the council setting out the dangerous situation for children in the B&amp;B.</p> <p>We demanded that the council immediately rehouse any families with children remaining in the Earl Marshall and declare that it would never again be used as emergency accommodation for children.</p> <p>The secretary to the leader of the council replied on 22 November 2017.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I have forwarded on all of your emails regarding Earl Marshall B&amp;B to both Councillors Drayton and McDonald and asked them to contact you, as soon as possible.”</p> <p>Then…nothing (later they claimed not to have received our email). So, we decided on a more direct approach.</p><p>On 7 February 2018, SYMAAG members went along to a Sheffield City Council meeting. We presented a petition, asked questions and stated our demands:</p><ul><li><span> </span>End the use of the Earl Marshall guest house for homeless refugee children;</li><li><span> </span>Provide equal treatment for homeless refugee children to that given to other homeless children in Sheffield.</li><li>In response to our testimony about the long periods families spent in B&amp;Bs, Cllr. Jackie Drayton, chair of the Children, Young People and Families committee, said, “These were asylum seeker families who we could not help in other ways because they had no resource to public funds.”</li><li>Later, on 20 February 2018, we received an email from the chair of housing, Cllr. Jayne Dunn. She admitted the council’s department for children, young people and families (CYPF, more commonly known as social services) had two families accommodated in the Earl Marshall.</li></ul> <p>She said: “Both families have no recourse to public funds. One family has been there since 9th September 2016, and one family since 28th January 2016, just over 2 years. The families are supported by CYPF. In any case B+B is not a good option for families for long periods, and I have offered to help source alternative accommodation if this is appropriate for both families.”</p><p class="mag-quote-right">One councillor later admitted that the B&amp;B was unsuitable for the families</p> <p>Then Carol, who had asked a question at the council meeting in February, received a reply to our petition from Cllr. Drayton, chair of the CYPF committee who placed the families in the Earl Marshall.&nbsp;</p> <p>The letter, dated Dated 8 March 2018, contained no apology for the year Carol and Sophie had spent in the Earl Marshall. Cllr. Drayton said that, “Children’s services do not support bed and breakfast accommodation for families and work to prevent this whenever possible.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/council_letter12 months.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Cllr. Jackie Drayton concedes that families have been housed in B&amp;Bs for more than 12 months (letter, 8 March 2018)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/council_letter12 months.JPG" alt="" title="Cllr. Jackie Drayton concedes that families have been housed in B&amp;Bs for more than 12 months (letter, 8 March 2018)" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Cllr. Jackie Drayton concedes: families have been housed in B&Bs for more than 12 months (letter, 8 March 2018)</span></span></span></p><p>The letter admitted “some cases” in bed and breakfast “for over twelve months” were “unacceptable” and a review of the cases was underway. Any families in bed and breakfast for more than six weeks would have reports issued to “monitor” them. There was no commitment to stop using the Earl Marshall. “We will assess the concerns raised about the particular institution identified in the petition.”</p> <h2>Sheffield, City of Sanctuary, and the homeless</h2> <p>Lately, we spoke to Barry, a volunteer in mental health campaigning groups in Sheffield. He told us, “Over the past twenty years I have known of many people when they are discharged from NHS care, and find themselves homeless, who have been put in the Earl Marshall by Social Services.”</p><p><span class="mag-quote-right">They made me live in the same small bedroom with him, for three months.</span></p> <p>Mary is an elderly Anglican minister and refugee from Southern Africa, who runs an art and handicraft project for women refugees in Sheffield. She found herself in the Earl Marshall in 2015, with her adult autistic son.</p> <p>“There was a serious fire in our council house and the Council had to find somewhere for us to live whilst it was repaired,” she told us. “They wanted to place my adult son, who is autistic, in the Earl Marshall. I said he would not cope in there without me. They refused to budge, so I went there with him. They made me live in the same small bedroom with him, for three months.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><h2>Earl Marshall’s response</h2> <p>We contacted the Earl Marshall on 22 March and asked for a response to the refugee families’ specific allegations and concerns raised in this article. </p><p>Nada Mortin, director of Earl Marshall Guest House Ltd, replied on 26 March with the following statement:&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p>Firstly, we refuse to comment on allegations of this nature as a matter of principle. We feel such comments may misrepresent the nature of our work or of the Hostel itself, which seeks to provide quality accommodation to homeless and vulnerable people in the community.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We would emphasise and reiterate that at all times we have complied with all regulations and policies issued by Sheffield City Council from time to time together with all regulatory bodies applicable to our sector and at no time have any allegations been received by the Hostel, whether from the council or any resident or former resident, in connection with the operation of the Hostel. Residents have always been provided with the requisite facilities and access to the same at appropriate times.</p></blockquote><p>We contacted Ms Mortin again on 28 March and 4 April, again inviting her response to the families’ particular concerns about breakfast, shower, kitchen and laundry arrangements. We await her reply.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>All names of refugees and refugee children, and interviewees, have been changed.</em></p><p><em>Edited by Clare Sambrook &amp; Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/john-grayson-violet-dickenson/children-made-homeless-by-migration-rules">UK migration rules make children homeless</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/theresa-may-s-hostile-immigration-regime-destroys-another-british-family">Theresa May’s hostile immigration regime destroys another family</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/pregnant-woman-g4s-asylum-housing">‘Please get me moved from here!’ Pregnant woman in G4S asylum housing</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/gareth-mitchell/high-court-blasts-outrageous-assault-by-tascor-staff-on-tort">High Court blasts ‘outrageous’ assault by Tascor staff on torture survivor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/people-come-in-here-normal-but-they-get-ill-protesting-against-">‘People come in here normal, but they get ill.’ Protesting against deaths at a UK migrant jail</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/five-years-of-denial-uk-government-s-reckless-pursuit-of-punitive-asylum-">Five years of denial: the UK government’s reckless pursuit of a punitive asylum policy — never mind the evidence of harm</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight 50.50 ShineALight John Grayson Violet Dickenson Thu, 05 Apr 2018 07:30:35 +0000 Violet Dickenson and John Grayson 117007 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK migration rules make children homeless https://www.opendemocracy.net/john-grayson-violet-dickenson/children-made-homeless-by-migration-rules <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Councils are forcing children into homelessness and destitution simply because of their parents’ migration status.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_TwoAmysfourchildren_Alara_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Alara Bed &amp; Breakfast room shared by Amy’s family of five (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_TwoAmysfourchildren_Alara_0.jpg" alt="" title="Alara Bed &amp; Breakfast room shared by Amy’s family of five (John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Alara Bed & Breakfast room shared by Amy’s family of five (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>For two years we have been investigating how Sheffield treats refugee families who have no recourse to public funds. Our latest article exposes the dire state of temporary housing for mothers with young children, forced to share hostels with vulnerable homeless men. </p> <p>Here we provide some context to the situation.</p> <p>Across the UK councils are forcing children into homelessness and destitution simply because of the migration status of their parents. This problem is compounded by the housing crisis, which is hurting the poorest most.</p><p>Sheffield City Council, the scene of our work, placed 43 homeless families with 97 children in bed and breakfast accommodation in the 11 months to 30 November 2017, according to an FOI we submitted. Some of them had been placed in B&amp;Bs more than once, and some for many weeks. Of the 97 children, 40 were under five years old.</p> <p>In April 2016, we visited a mother and four children under five years (two year old twins, a three year old and a five year old). They’d been housed in the Alara Bed and Breakfast hotel in Hillsborough, Sheffield.</p> <p>We climbed a steep flight of stairs to be greeted by Amy, with her youngest child in her arms. “This is it,” Amy said, “We stay in here most of the time. The children cannot play here or anywhere inside.”&nbsp;</p> <p>The council had put them in the Alara, in one room on the first floor, nearly 18 months before. Amy’s social worker had told her that she and her children didn’t qualify for anything better because they have ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ status, although three of Amy’s four children were British citizens.&nbsp; </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Sink_unit_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Here Amy washes dishes and her children (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Sink_unit_0.JPG" alt="" title="Here Amy washes dishes and her children (John Grayson)" width="460" height="614" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Here Amy washes dishes and her children (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>Amy told us: “We have breakfast which is OK, but then we have to go to food banks or get cheap takeaways. I cannot cook in here at all.” Amy hoped we might be able to get her moved.</p> <p>She had been frightened to complain to anyone but her social worker. “They told me I would have to make another claim to stay in the UK in October this year, and I don’t want to be deported,” she said.</p> <p>Amy showed us the damp and dirty walls near the beds she shared with her children. The rest of the place, carpets, toilets, showers are really nice and clean”.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">She was frightened to complain, fearing she would be deported</p> <p>The room had a small sink that Amy used for washing the children and washing the dishes. The nearest toilets and showers were across the landing of a steep flight of stairs, shared with other residents. This presented a daily hazard for Amy’s toddlers. “I worry every day when I take the children to the toilet. The manager won’t provide any child gates — he says they will stop escape if there is a fire.”</p> <p>We protested to the council. Sheffield’s Children Young People &amp; Families department (social services) told us that the council’s Private Housing Standards department “had recommended the Alara”. </p><p>But after the standards department sent a two-person inspection team to the Alara, social services said: “We consider that the accommodation is not suitable for either family.” That was April.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Unguarded_stairs_toilets_showers.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Unguarded stairs (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Unguarded_stairs_toilets_showers.JPG" alt="" title="Unguarded stairs (John Grayson)" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Unguarded stairs (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>We advised Amy and her children not to move to different B&amp;B accommodation, but to hold out for something suitable. The council offered a city centre “family room” in a budget hotel — again just one room. We maintained that the council should provide temporary housing suitable for Amy and her four children.</p> <p>In May the leader of Sheffield City Council Cllr. Julie Dore intervened, saying we should “assist this family by encouraging them to move to the hotel we have organised for them.”</p> <p>She wrote to us: “I am very unhappy we now have a family with small children residing somewhere that has been deemed unsafe for them.”</p> <p>Eventually, faced with potential legal action on the basis of the children’s human rights, the council agreed to offer Amy a standard council house on a temporary basis.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2>A place to call home</h2><p><a href="http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s29089/Homelessness%20Prevention%20Strategy%203.pdf">Seventy per cent</a>&nbsp;of Sheffield’s homeless people in temporary accommodation are single men or childless couples, that’s almost three times the national average of 26 per cent.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson-violet-dickenson/mothers-and-children-unlawfully-housed-in-shef">Our investigations</a> suggest that a small but growing number of homeless children in families in Sheffield have no recourse to public funds. This is a growing problem across the UK affecting families in cities like Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham.</p> <p>In late 2015,&nbsp;Hackney Community Law Centre and Hackney Migrant Centre produced “<a href="http://www.hackneymigrantcentre.org.uk/sites/hackneymigrantcentre.org.uk/files/A%20Place%20To%20Call%20Home%20-%20Embargoed%20Interactive%20Version_0.pdf">A place to call home</a>: a report into the standard of housing provided to children in need in London”. </p><p>FOI requests revealed that six London local authorities supported 1,570 “Section 17” families or children between them during the last six months of 2014. </p><p>In August 2017&nbsp;<a href="https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/i-felt-like-my-life-was-being-taken-away-from-me-a7884576.html"><em>The Independent</em></a><em>&nbsp;</em>reported that Haringey local authority “was currently supporting 71 households with no recourse to public funds, including 151 children.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><span>Councils can defy the government</span></h2> <p>There is resistance. In December 2017 the Labour mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson unveiled a £250,000 homeless facility called Labre House in the city centre. In a break with national policy, he said: “The centre will also help failed asylum seekers who the Government has said have ‘no recourse to public funds’.”</p> <p>Our observations chime with the Hackney findings that: “Most B&amp;B-style accommodation is inappropriate. Not only does it frequently fail to adequately meet the needs of the family but, in some situations, it can pose a positive danger.”</p> <p>We are campaigning to make sure in Sheffield, the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, the council defends the safety of refugee children, whatever their status.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span>All names of refugees and refugee children, and interviewees, have been changed.</span></p> <p><em>Edited by Clare Sambrook &amp; Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson-violet-dickenson/mothers-and-children-unlawfully-housed-in-shef">Mothers and children unlawfully housed in Sheffield B&amp;Bs for years</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/theresa-may-s-hostile-immigration-regime-destroys-another-british-family">Theresa May’s hostile immigration regime destroys another family</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/pregnant-woman-g4s-asylum-housing">‘Please get me moved from here!’ Pregnant woman in G4S asylum housing</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight John Grayson Violet Dickenson Thu, 05 Apr 2018 06:52:29 +0000 Violet Dickenson and John Grayson 117032 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Theresa May’s hostile immigration regime destroys another family https://www.opendemocracy.net/theresa-may-s-hostile-immigration-regime-destroys-another-british-family <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>British migration policy forces working class families to choose between country and the people they love. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/1.dungavelDemoFLICKR_resized.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/1.dungavelDemoFLICKR_resized.jpg" alt="Children protest with signs and placards. Signs read No Detention, No Deportation" title="" width="460" height="293" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Same story: Children protest back in 2003 against Dungavel House Prison for refugees. The detention estate has since expanded. Photo by Gareth Harper. CC BY-NC 4.0. </span></span></span></p><p class="Standard">I met Evan* around three years ago, through my work at the <a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org/">Unity Centre</a> in Glasgow. Our first conversation was over the phone because he was locked up in an immigration detention centre. Evan was softly spoken, and anxious at the idea that he could be <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/home-office-use-indefinite-immigration-detention-causing-serious-harm-new-amnesty">detained indefinitely</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">Evan came to the UK in 2001 when he was 15 years old. He studied English, maths and art in college and then went on to work as a painter and decorator in London. In 2007 Evan met and fell in love with Kelly*. They got married and had a daughter, now the family live together just outside London.</p> <p class="Standard">Kelly works in a nursery. She has muscular dystrophy, which means she can only work part-time and often needs help with daily tasks such as shopping, cooking and bathing. Evan is an attentive carer and has always looked after Kelly. When her condition flares up he does everything for her and their daughter.</p> <p class="Standard">Evan and Kelly’s daughter Rhea* is now nine years old. Her mum says that she loves school and up until recently lived a happy life. Rhea loves doing adventurous things with her dad, like climbing.</p> <p class="Standard">But a Home Office policy called Operation Nexus has ruined their family life, and could yet tear them apart.</p> <h2><strong>A hostile environment</strong></h2> <p class="Standard">Almost 10 years ago, Evan spent six weeks in prison for a non-violent crime. Since then, Evan has only minor convictions for the possession of cannabis. But Evan has been constantly harassed by the police. </p><p class="Standard">Once, he was almost arrested for getting into his own car after work. A police officer thought he was trying to steal it. He has been pulled over while driving under the speed limit. He has been stopped and searched while walking down the street countless times.</p> <p class="Standard">Evan’s experiences reflect <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/feb/02/stop-and-search-police-unacceptably-slow-to-comply-with-new-rules">evidence</a> and <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/lammy-review-final-report">research</a> over <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/research/statistics/criminal-justice/">decades</a> about the over-policing of black, brown and working class communities in the UK. Last year, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/oct/26/stop-and-search-eight-times-more-likely-to-target-black-people">official statistics</a> revealed that black British people are still eight times more likely to be stopped than white people. Black and brown people are more likely to be <a href="https://www.release.org.uk/publications/numbers-black-and-white-ethnic-disparities-policing-and-prosecution-drug-offences">prosecuted for minor offences</a> and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jun/24/rise-proportion-black-ethnic-minority-young-prisoners-stop-and-search">locked up for longer</a>.</p> <p class="Standard">Now Operation Nexus gives the police yet more powers by working with the Home Office to round up and deport foreign nationals.</p><h2><strong>Operation Nexus</strong></h2><p class="Standard">In 2012 the Home Office launched Operation Nexus in partnership first with the Metropolitan Police and then with police forces across the country. Under Nexus, information about foreign nationals known to the police is shared with immigration enforcement to build a case for their deportation, even if that individual hasn’t committed or been charged with a crime.</p><p class="Standard">To gather this intelligence, immigration officers are posted within police stations to examine all arrests involving foreign nationals. The police may also refer ‘high harm’ cases to immigration enforcement. The Home Office provides this definition of&nbsp;<span>“</span>high harm”:</p><p class="mag-quote-center">For the purposes of Operation Nexus, Foreign National Offenders are considered as ‘High Harm’ cases where their conduct incurs significant adverse impact, whether physical, emotional or financial, upon individuals or the wider community.</p><p class="Standard">According to the Home Office, Evan is&nbsp;<span>“</span>high harm”. That decision has been made based on his six-week prison sentence and encounters with the police through stop and search. After being flagged up by Nexus, Evan was arrested and locked up in immigration detention.</p><h2>Indefinite detention</h2><p class="Standard">Evan spent over a year in immigration detention and is traumatised to this day. I’ve learnt to avoid the topic with him. Re-living the things he saw and the hopelessness he felt being away from his family is too difficult. Evan describes his time in immigration detention as worse than anything he experienced during his six weeks in prison.</p><p class="Standard">Evan’s family has suffered too. Teachers noticed that Rhea was unhappy. I spoke with Kelly, Evan’s sister and his aunt regularly. They spent a vast amount of time, energy and money trying to get him out. At one point, Kelly and Rhea were forced to move in with Kelly’s parents. They couldn’t afford to pay both Evan’s lawyer and their rent.</p><p class="Standard">Evan was finally released on bail last year – with conditions. Once a week he must make a 50-mile round trip into London to <a href="http://www.righttoremain.org.uk/legal/reporting-to-the-home-office-exploring-connections-to-detention-and-solidarity/">report</a> to the Home Office.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The little girl’s fear has become so obvious that every week her primary school give her a day off to go with her dad to the Home Office.</p><p class="Standard">Rhea is terrified that the Home Office will take her dad away again. The little girl’s fear has become so obvious that every week her primary school gives her a day off to go with her dad to the Home Office.</p><h2>A right to love and family</h2><p class="Standard">Evan has a British family and the UK has been his home for more than a decade. His conviction are for non-violent offences. Is there a legal remedy to his plight?&nbsp;</p><p class="Standard">There are exceptions to deportation: if it would be&nbsp;<span>“</span>unduly harsh”&nbsp;to expect Kelly and Rhea to relocate or live in the UK without him for example.</p><p class="Standard">But the Home Office has decided it would be fine for Kelly and Rhea to live in the UK without Evan.</p><p class="Standard">Evan’s family have gathered evidence – letters from teachers, social workers, doctors – to show the impact of his deportation. The health impacts for Kelly, the psychological effects on Rhea.&nbsp;</p><p class="Standard">But the Home Office argue that Kelly and Rhea – both British citizens – should relocate to Jamaica. In a letter to the family, the Home Office note that English is spoken in Jamaica. They say that Rhea can continue primary school there and Kelly’s condition can be managed appropriately there.</p><p class="Standard">The Home Office says that Evan is not&nbsp;<span>“</span>socially and culturally integrated in the UK”, despite having lived here for the last 17 years.</p><p class="Standard">And they question Evan’s right to have fallen in love with Kelly.</p><p class="Standard">When the couple met, Evan had leave to remain. But under immigration rules, little weight can be given to a relationship formed while a migrant’s immigration status is&nbsp;<span>“</span><a href="https://immigrationbarrister.co.uk/the-precarious-definition-of-precarious-rhuppiah-v-sshd">precarious</a>”.</p><p class="Standard">The Home Office say that Evan and Kelly’s relationship was formed when his status was precarious. Evan and Kelly have been married almost a decade. They have raised their nine year old daughter together. Still the Home Office dismisses their relationship.</p><h2>Wider questions</h2><p class="Standard">Until recently, if foreign ex-offenders wanted to appeal a Home Office decision to deport them, they were deported first and expected to appeal from outside the UK.</p><p class="Standard">The&nbsp;<span>“</span>deport first, appeal later”&nbsp;regime was piloted first on foreign national offenders, a group that does not enjoy much public sympathy. The new laws were unlikely to mobilise much opposition. </p><p class="Standard">The legislation was then <a href="https://www.freemovement.org.uk/remove-first-appeal-later-provisions-force-today-new-guidance-published/">rolled out for other categories of migrant</a>. Eventually, the policy was challenged in the courts and last year was ruled <a href="http://unitycentreglasgow.org/deport-first-appeal-later-unlawful/">unlawful</a>.</p><p class="Standard"><a href="https://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2018/01/18/deportation-of-foreign-criminals-out-of-country-appeals-still-lawful/">Little help to anyone already deported</a>, those exiled under&nbsp;<span>“</span>deport first appeal later”&nbsp;cannot necessarily return to the UK. Untold numbers of people remain stranded in counties they should never have been deported to, separated from their families and the lives they built here in the UK.&nbsp;</p><p class="Standard">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><span><em>An appeal from the author</em></span></h2><p class="Standard">Evan’s appeal against his pending deportation will soon be heard before a judge. He has fought hard for this in-country appeal. In 2014, <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/files/aiuk_legal_aid_report.pdf">legal aid was cut in England and Wales</a> for immigration cases. Evan is paying privately for his lawyer. He is banned from working, so the pressure is on Kelly to cover the legal fees. And she must do this on a part-time wage. The family are <a href="https://www.gofundme.com/x97n7p-help-me-stay-with-my-daughter-wife">currently asking for donations</a> from the public, to contribute to their legal costs.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p><em>*Names have been changed to protect the identity of Evan’s daughter.</em></p>Edited by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.<fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/mia-light/lawyers-fail-migrants-in-uk">How lawyers fail migrants in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/nando-sigona/another-dangerous-national-us-you-can-t-have-more-integrated-society-in-hostile-environ">Another dangerous ‘National Us’: you can’t have a more integrated society in a hostile environment </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/money-talks-meet-three-people-who-want-to-live-in-uk">Money talks: Meet three people who want to live in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/nadia-graham/5-reasons-why-we-stopped-ukgov-deportation-flight-to-nigeria-la">5 reasons why we stopped a UKgov deportation flight to Nigeria last night </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight UK Democracy and government Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Mia Light Thu, 29 Mar 2018 05:59:59 +0000 Mia Light 116884 at https://www.opendemocracy.net 'We’ve done you proud' — Families speak after NHS Trust fined £2million over patient deaths https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/sara-ryan/connor-sparrowhawk-southern-health-fined-2m <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG ></o> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF ></w> <w:LidThemeOther>EN-US</w:LidThemeOther> <w:LidThemeAsian>JA</w:LidThemeAsian> 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mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-ansi-language:EN-US;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; font-family: Helvetica; mso-fareast-font-family: &amp;amp;amp; mso-bidi-font-family: &amp;amp;amp; color: #333333; background: white; mso-ansi-language: EN-GB;">Today Southern Health was fined £2m over the “entirely preventable” deaths of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin, aged&nbsp;</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 13.333333015441895px;">45</span><span style="font-family: Helvetica; font-size: 10pt;">.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/SARA_RYAN_26MARCH2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/SARA_RYAN_26MARCH2.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="299" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sara Ryan speaking in Oxford on 26 March 2018, after Southern Health was fined £2million (image #JusticeforLB)</span></span></span></p> <h2><strong>Clare Sambrook writes:</strong> </h2><p>Today at Oxford Crown Court, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust was fined £2m for allowing the “entirely preventable” deaths of 18-year-old Connor Sparrowhawk and Teresa Colvin, who was 45.&nbsp;<span>Passing sentence,&nbsp;</span><a href="https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/r-v-southern-nhs-sentencing.pdf">Mr Justice Stuart-Smith </a>spoke of their families’&nbsp;“<span>deep, catastrophic and unspeakable pain, sadness and loss</span><span>”.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Teresa Colvin’s husband Roger,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43542284">speaking outside court today</a>,&nbsp;said Teresa, who was affectionately known as TJ, had been “a vivacious, beautiful, and loving woman” who was dearly loved. In a statement he read to the court Roger Colvin spoke of life’s “what-ifs” and how every day something would trigger a memory, accentuating his terrible loss.&nbsp;TJ’s sister Wendy Andrade spoke of anger and hurt that was still very raw for the family and the massive void that&nbsp;TJ’s&nbsp;death had&nbsp;left.&nbsp;</p> <p>Teresa Colvin was found hanged by a phone cord at Woodhaven Adult Mental Health Hospital, Southampton on 22 April 2012.&nbsp;She died four days later.</p> <p>The court heard that Southern Health had failed to act upon warnings about ligature risks from health and safety expert Mike Holder. He&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3783528/Shamed-NHS-boss-Health-chief-told-FIVE-YEARS-ago-patients-risk-failed-follow-advice-240k-job.html">resigned in protest at the Trust’s inaction</a> eight weeks before Teresa Colvin’s death.</p> <p>Between 2007 and 2011 more than 1,700 “ligature incidents” had occurred across the Trust. The very phone cord that TJ would later use had been identified as a risk to patients. The cost of eliminating the risk would have been £53. Nothing was done about it.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Connor Sparrowhawk,&nbsp;<span>a funny, quirky and beloved young man,</span><span>&nbsp;was just 18 when he died on 4 July 2013 whilst a patient at Slade House, a Short Term Treatment and Assessment Centre at Headington in Oxford.</span></p><p><span>Connor had autism, learning difficulties and epilepsy, but it was the Trust’s neglect that caused his death.</span></p> <p>His mother, Sara Ryan, had warned staff —&nbsp;in writing — that Connor had an injury to his tongue that suggested a recent seizure. Yet he was allowed to bathe unsupervised and behind a locked door, and he drowned in the bath.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/r-v-southern-nhs-sentencing.pdf">Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said</a>&nbsp;each death was an “unnecessary human tragedy”, and it was a “regrettable fact” that Sara Ryan and Roger Colvin had had to campaign for justice.&nbsp;</p><p>Connor’s family and friends campaigned under the banner #JusticeforLB — his nickname was Laughing Boy because he laughed so much. Their work provoked the exposure of the Trust’s failure to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths.&nbsp;</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DZNZPVJX4AAVflC.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Connor Sparrowhawk (#JusticeforLB)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DZNZPVJX4AAVflC.jpg" alt="" title="Connor Sparrowhawk (#JusticeforLB)" width="240" height="353" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor Sparrowhawk (#JusticeforLB)</span></span></span></p><p><span>While failing to watch over Connor,&nbsp;Southern Health had spent months monitoring his mother’s blog. The morning after his death executives <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">turned their attention to reputation management</a>. Through years of lies and obfuscation Southern Health attacked bereaved families and&nbsp;</span><a href="https://mydaftlife.com/2015/04/02/farcical-inaccuracies-2/">persistently tried to shift blame</a><span>&nbsp;for Connor’s death from itself to Sara Ryan. One Trust employee left a message on her voicemail calling her “a vindictive cow”.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The judge&nbsp;paid tribute to Sara Ryan today: “It is clear on the evidence that Dr Ryan in particular faced not merely resistance but entirely unjustified criticism as she pursued her Justice for LB campaign.”</p> <p>He noted Southern Health’s admission:&nbsp;</p> <p>“The Trust fully acknowledges that Dr Sara Ryan has conducted herself and the Justice for LB campaign in a dignified, fair and reasonable way. To the extent that there have been comments to the contrary by Trust staff and family members of staff, these do not represent the view of the Trust and are expressly disavowed.”</p><p>The judge said that victim impact statements from Sara Ryan and from Connor’s step-father Richard Huggins “make for almost unbearable reading”. </p><p>He said: “Dr Ryan describes how the light went out of her life on 4 July 2013. And in dignified and restrained terms she lays bare how the assertion by the Trust in the early days that Connor had died of natural causes compounded her grief. As did Mr Colvin when referring to the loss of TJ, Dr Huggins refers to their grief being raw. Their lives have become dominated by a deep, catastrophic and unspeakable pain, sadness and loss.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Over years we have published&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">work by Sara Ryan</a>, by&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Connor’s brother Tom</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">disclosure stories</a>&nbsp;about Southern Health’s failure to take action to remedy known problems.</p> <p>Today we pay tribute to bereaved families who fight for truth and accountability, who work to make public services safer for everyone. We thank&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/@GeorgeJulian">George Julian</a>, whose reporting of inquests and tribunals through live-tweeting has shone a light on Connor’s and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.georgejulian.co.uk/2018/03/24/live-tweeting-inquests-and-tribunals-10-top-tips-of-learning-so-far-justiceforlb/">other state-related deaths</a>. </p><p>Mr Justice Stuart-Smith<span>’</span>s judgement can be found <a href="https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/r-v-southern-nhs-sentencing.pdf">here</a>. Connor’s family’s statement in response to today’s sentencing follows below.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_2bigger5_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_2bigger5_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="65" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><h2>Family statement on the Health &amp; Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution of Southern Health #JusticeforLB</h2><h2>Sara Ryan writes:</h2><p>Five years ago this month we took our beautiful boy to what we thought was a specialist NHS unit. He drowned in the bath 107 days later.</p><p>No one should die a preventable death in the care of the state. Learning disabled people should not die on average twenty years before their non-disabled peers. Families should not have to fight for answers and accountability. They should not have to raise funds for legal representation at a time of unspeakable grief and pain.</p><p>Southern Health dug deep into publicly funded pockets and armed itself with a range of legal weaponry and dirty tricks.</p><p>The #JusticeforLB campaign has shone a light on systemic failings in the care of learning disabled people. We have collectively and effectively revealed weaknesses in regulatory practices, a disregard for the lives and deaths of certain people and the limitations of work by large established charities in this area.</p><p>We appreciate Dr Nick Broughton’s recognition and acknowledgement of the failings that spread across five years under Katrina Percy’s leadership, and his heartfelt apology for these. [Broughton has been Southern Health chief executive since November 2017].</p><p>We thank the HSE for their meticulous and sensitive investigation and everyone who has stood alongside us fighting for what is right and just.</p><p>I’m left thinking if Connor was here now, in the shadow of Oxford Crown Court and the St Aldates police station, he would repeatedly ask ‘<em>why mum?</em>‘</p><p>I’d reply ‘<em>I don’t know matey but we’ve done you proud</em>’.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Bus, by Connor Sparrowhawk"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2_0.jpg" alt="" title="Bus, by Connor Sparrowhawk" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Bus, by Connor Sparrowhawk (#JusticeforLB)</span></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/sara-ryan-clare-sambrook/connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforLB">Connor Sparrowhawk: How one boy’s death in NHS care inspired a movement for justice</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Since my brother’s preventable death . . .</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/190k-payoff-for-ex-chief-of-nhs-trust-that-failed-to-investig">£190K payoff for ex-chief of NHS Trust that failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/ally-rogers/we-apologise-to-anybody-who-feels-let-down">‘We apologise to anybody who feels let down’</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight ourNHS Access to justice Clare Sambrook Sara Ryan Mon, 26 Mar 2018 16:30:34 +0000 Sara Ryan and Clare Sambrook 116882 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Connor Sparrowhawk: How one boy’s death in NHS care inspired a movement for justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/sara-ryan-clare-sambrook/connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforLB <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>The story of a UK campaign for truth and accountability. And respect for the lives of people who have learning disabilities. Review by Clare Sambrook. Extract by Sara Ryan.</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Sara.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sara Ryan"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Sara.jpg" alt="" title="Sara Ryan" width="460" height="376" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>‘What has Steve Wright got, Mum?’ he asked. ‘DJitis,’ I said. Sara Ryan (Rich Huggins)</span></span></span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html"><em>Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;A Death by Indifference</em>, by Sara Ryan</a></h2><h2>Review by Clare Sambrook</h2> <p>Sara Ryan began a blog six years ago, “mostly to document the funny stories that happened in our everyday lives.” Called <a href="https://mydaftlife.com">mydaftlife</a>, it’s a warm and funny read. Ryan has an ear for dialogue, a photographer’s eye —&nbsp;and she’s a nifty swearer. Star of the show is her son Connor, his quirky take on life. One of five children, they call him Laughing Boy, LB for short. He loves lorries, buses, coaches, London, Eddie Stobart, and the family’s Jack Russell, Chunky Stan. </p> <p>Connor is 15 when the blog starts. Here’s a conversation:</p> <ul><li>‘Hey LB! How did meal prep go today?’</li><li>‘Not good, Mum.’</li><li>‘Oh. Why not?’</li><li>‘I failed, Mum.’</li><li>‘Whaddayamean, you failed?’</li><li>‘I failed, Mum.’</li><li>‘Why? What did you cook?’</li><li>‘Kebabs, Mum.’</li><li>‘Oh. I don’t get it. What went wrong?’</li><li>‘I didn’t have a skewer, Mum.’</li><li>‘Oh. Why not?’</li><li>‘Dunno, Mum.’</li><li>‘So what did you eat for lunch?’</li><li>‘Bits, Mum.’</li></ul> <p>Connor has autism, learning difficulties, epilepsy. He’s nearing 18 and the prospect of leaving school, the people he knows and likes, when the story darkens. An early encounter with adult social care comes with a manager’s humourless remark: “I am his future.”</p> <p>At home and at school Connor becomes anxious, unhappy, unpredictable, unlike himself. Things come to a head when he punches Big Sue, his beloved support teacher. The family, at their wit’s end, learn that there’s an NHS unit close by that can help. It’s a Short Term Assessment and Treatment Unit (STATT, for short), a mile or two from their Oxford home. It’s called Slade House and run by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust. There a team of learning disability specialists —&nbsp;psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, nurses —&nbsp;will keep Connor safe, take a few weeks to assess him, work out the cause of his distress.</p> <p>Connor is admitted one night in March 2013. The next morning, in the early hours, he is forcibly restrained by four staff, pinned face-down. Says Ryan: “That was the day he stopped being a sixth former.”</p> <p>Weeks pass. Connor loses weight. One morning, fifteen weeks and two days after his admission, Connor (he has epilepsy, remember) is left alone, behind a locked door, out of earshot, in a steep-sided bath. He has a seizure. And he drowns.</p> <p>His <a href="https://mydaftlife.com">mother’s blog</a>, and now her book, tells this story and its brutal aftermath, as Connor’s family tries to find out what exactly happened to him, how on earth it <em>can</em> have happened at all. </p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Justice640.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ryan_Justice640.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="363" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><a href="https://www.inquest.org.uk/family-campaigns">Other families</a> bereaved by state neglect and wrongdoing might find their own experience reflected here: the “indescribable terror”, the pain and struggle, being blocked and bewildered by official lying and contempt. The bullying and the bruising, the character attack, the surveillance, the accusation that <em>you&nbsp;</em>are the problem. </p><p>The waiting. </p><p>And the inequality of arms. About the early days, Ryan writes: “We had no idea how uneven the ‘playing field’ was in a game we didn’t yet understand we were playing.”</p> <p>Ryan’s craft —&nbsp;she is a Senior Research Lead at Oxford University —&nbsp;serves the fight.<strong> </strong>Her partner Richard Huggins is an academic too. Their #JusticeforLB campaign, supported by family, friends, and the charity INQUEST, forces the exposure of negligence and incompetence on a scale that is hard to comprehend. </p> <p>It turns out that seven years <em>before</em> Connor died, another patient <a href="https://mydaftlife.com/2016/03/27/one-way-wriggle-to-the-moon/">drowned in the same NHS unit</a>. <em>In the same bath.</em> A fact that Southern Health concealed for more than two years after Connor’s death. </p> <p>It turns out that Southern Health has <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/dec/09/southern-health-nhs-trust-failed-investigate-patient-deaths-inquiry">failed properly to investigate</a> more than 1,000 unexpected deaths —&nbsp;in only four years —&nbsp;and that the deaths of people with learning disabilities are least likely to be investigated. Fewer than 1% of <em>their</em> unexpected deaths have been looked into. <em>One per cent</em>. As if their lives and deaths don’t matter.</p> <p>Without #JusticeforLB these things and more would likely have stayed hidden.</p> <p>Ryan points to the premature mortality rates of people with learning disabilities in the UK, the hate crime, the “lukewarm outrage” to documented experiences of abuse, the lethal undertow of eugenics.</p> <p>Connor’s life, a happy life, well-lived, shared, recorded, celebrated, proves the wrong and falsity in all of that. </p> <p>Ryan’s book speaks of a family’s dreadful loss, charts a creative, comradely and joyous campaign for truth, for justice and accountability, strikes a blow for human rights. And brings to life her funny, kind and much-loved son.</p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_2bigger5.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_2bigger5.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="65" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3500.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Connor at his school prom"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/3500.jpg" alt="" title="Connor at his school prom" width="460" height="276" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Connor at his school prom (#JusticeforLB)</span></span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html"><em>Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;A Death by Indifference</em></a></h2><h2>Extract by Sara Ryan</h2><p>One thing that was never pinned down during the inquest was what actually happened on the morning Connor died. We found out from the documentation and witness statements that Connor woke up and was going to have a bath before going to visit the Oxford Bus Company. According to the documentation his support worker and key nurse checked on him every 15 minutes until 9.15am when he was found unconscious. Where the decision for 15-minute observations came from was never uncovered, as witness after witness was asked and said they didn’t know.</p> <p>They were both in the nurses’ office which was across the corridor from the bathroom, a short distance away. The support worker was doing an online Tesco order in between checking on Connor. The mundaneness of this detail fills me with queasiness. Still. Ticking the ‘3 for 2’ box while Connor drowned feet away. Their statements and witness testimony provided contradictory evidence about who did what and when. The support worker’s evidence revealed that the bathroom door was locked. She used a key to open it before she found him. Until then, we hadn’t been told that the bathroom door had been locked. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="‘Bus’ by Connor Sparrowhawk"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_bus2.jpg" alt="" title="‘Bus’ by Connor Sparrowhawk" width="460" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>‘Bus’ by Connor Sparrowhawk</span></span></span></p><p>So, not only was Connor not supervised in the bath, but he was locked in the room. This was presented as allowing Connor the privacy to do ‘what boys do in the bathroom’. It was never made clear who locked the door. When it was raised a second time, one or two barristers leapt up to say that we did not know if the door was ‘locked’ – this in spite of the evidence given by the support worker that she had ‘used a key to open it’.</p> <p>Thinking back to Connor bathing at home in the downstairs bathroom with no door, and a constant in‑and‑out of talking to him, reminding him to wash his hair, chatting&nbsp;to him and answering his endless questions, I felt physically sick. In 18 years, we had never left him in the bath with the door shut, let alone locked. Big Sue and Tina said that, on residential school trips, they would always stand by the door of the shower and talk to the kids, even those without epilepsy. </p> <p>Sitting there in full view of the jury and listening to the evidence – ‘I checked…oh no, he checked’ sort of stuff – my brain was screaming: ‘What the actual fuck were you doing? Who checked? When? Did you ever fucking “check”? Or did you suddenly wonder where he was?’ The contradictory evidence over who checked and when was never fully addressed during the inquest.</p> <p>Staff evidence exhibited a mix of remorsefulness, defensiveness, reflectiveness and the downright offensive. The hardest to sit through was [consultant psychiatrist] Dr Murphy, which spread from the Friday afternoon in person to the following Monday by video link from Ireland.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Step-dad, Rich, brothers Owen &amp; Tom, Connor (far right) two weeks before his death (Ryan)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Justicequilt-6_0.jpg" alt="" title="Step-dad, Rich, brothers Owen &amp; Tom, Connor (far right) two weeks before his death (Ryan)" width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Step-dad, Rich, brothers Owen & Tom, Connor (far right) two weeks before he died (Ryan)</span></span></span></p> <p>We knew from the Verita review [February 2014,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=76277">PDF here</a>]&nbsp;that Dr Murphy had assessed that Connor had not had a seizure on 20 May. She took his subsequent statement that he remembered biting his tongue when angry as the accepted version of what happened without discussion with us. The fact that she interacted with Connor a handful of times across the 107 days was irrelevant.</p> <p>When asked about if Connor had had a seizure, would it be appropriate to leave him in the bath, she replied, ‘If it was a proven seizure, it wouldn’t have been appropriate.’ She went on to say, ‘My understanding is Connor didn’t have a seizure while he was on the ward’ – a point the Coroner dismissed, gently reminding her Connor had a seizure on the day he died.</p> <p>When questioned about the bleedingly obvious point that you don’t rule seizure activity out in a patient with epilepsy, she replied, ‘I made a judgement call on that day, with all the information I had and I’m always thinking bigger picture and I think that’s normal.’</p> <p>Paul Bowen QC, [the family’s barrister] making his polite, missile-like points, continued his questioning, drawing on the testimony of expert witness Professor Crawford, a consultant neurologist and Director of the Special Centre for Epilepsy, York.</p><p>‘Dr Ryan had seen her son have seizures in the past.’</p> <p>‘Yes.’</p> <p>‘And she had seen how he presented after a seizure. And she was the best person to know, having seen him that day whether it was likely or not that he had had a seizure, wasn’t she?’</p> <p>‘I suppose so.’</p> <p>‘And indeed, I could put it to you that Professor Crawford draws the conclusion that it probably was as a result of an unobserved seizure that he bit his tongue.’</p> <p>‘Well, with all due respect, Professor Crawford wasn’t there.’</p> <p>‘I could say the same, you weren’t actually there when he was supposed to have had the seizure.’</p> <p>No.</p> <p>The inquest was obviously a difficult process, and compounded by what seemed to be a continuing tendency to mother‑blame. The staff witness statements produced for Connor’s inquest offered further examples of this. This set of statements typically included a section headed ‘My Relationship with Dr Ryan’ or just ‘Dr Ryan’. Such a heading was unnecessary for many reasons, not least that Connor clearly had a large family who (apart from Tom, who at 13 years old was not allowed on the ward) visited him in the Unit and interacted with staff. It was also odd given I was called Sara in the Unit – there was no ‘Dr’ stuff in those days.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_tom.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Connor and his brother Tom"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/connor_tom.jpg" alt="" title="Connor and his brother Tom" width="460" height="339" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At Marble Arch, waiting for the bus home after birthday day out, Connor & Tom (Sara Ryan)</span></span></span></p> <p>Charlotte [Haworth Hird, a leading human rights solicitor] sent us these witness statements in September 2015 with an email warning us of the content. It’s odd really, contrasting the actions that help or ease, with those that make a devastating situation worse. Reading the evidence in advance of Connor’s inquest was devastating. For example, a student nurse who until that point I thought I had got on well with stated:</p> <p>‘I had seen Dr Ryan shouting at a consultant and I did not want to experience that. I was scared of her; she was a bit different.’</p> <p>When something goes catastrophically wrong, pinning the blame on ‘Mum’ or the family rather than trying to establish openly and transparently what went wrong is one of those aspects of public sector provision that has consistently floored us over the past few years. Of course, mother-blame does, in effect, help to relieve a Trust or County Council from having to think about the pain and grief bereaved families experience.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ch6x2nsWwAEZjdZ.jpg-large_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Craftivisim by George Julian"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Ch6x2nsWwAEZjdZ.jpg-large_0.jpeg" alt="" title="Craftivisim by George Julian" width="240" height="300" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Craftivisim by George Julian #JusticeforLB</span></span></span>It is also indicative of a wider shortcoming in many health and social care services – of failing to want to understand the experiences and views of families, and failing to factor this in when making decisions or statements.</p> <p>The County Council was also firing nuclear-type missiles our way. We received an independent report commissioned by the Director of Adult Social Care one morning, out of the blue. The report arrived in my inbox two weeks after it had been circulated to everyone and their dog. It was almost farcical, as so much of it was inaccurate. It was also deeply biased, slipping into a review about me and my actions rather than what happened and why.</p> <p>Days before Connor’s inquest began, Alicia Wood, then CEO of the Housing and Support Alliance (now known as Learning Disability England), had forwarded a copy of a letter to Caoilfhionn Gallagher, the human rights barrister who had earlier offered us pro bono support. The letter was from a less reflective Oxford County Council commissioner who had written to two disability activists excusing the Council’s role in commissioning such crap services. As I read it, I could see again subtexts of mother-blame.</p> <p>She described feeling ‘immense sympathy’ for me while stating, in the same sentence, that she believed my campaigning had done a lot of damage. ‘In hindsight’ featured, as it does so commonly when something goes catastrophically wrong. We-could-possibly-have-done-more-but-we-were-so-stretched-type bollocks. The letter ends with a toe-curling paragraph which combines ‘immensely sorry’ with the comment that bloggers have ‘a duty to be honest and accurate’:</p><p>‘My hope is that she can find some kind of peace with this, and that one day, she might be able to move on.’</p><p>Weary Mother, a regular contributor to my blog, captured what the experience is like for many mothers in the following comment on mydaftlife:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">So many of us have fought so bloody hard for justice for our sons and daughters and have all been treated as brutally as Sara and her family has…just for seeking justice. Many of us battle on, like Sara, now. </p><p class="blockquote-new">My son is an actor with a group composed of people with learning disabilities. With tears running down my face I watched him when they performed a play about the First World War. My son was the only soldier from that village to come home. In his tattered uniform he came slowly down the aisle in church, Last Post playing quietly. He leaned heavily on stick (as he now does from damage done to him in real life), his head bandaged and bloody. At front the widows wait with his wife, who moves towards him in beautiful and moving joy. </p><p class="blockquote-new">In the background, slowly and in time to the gently played Last Post, a row of our dead boys walk in line, eyes bandaged and unseeing, comrades all. Arm stretched out, hand on comrade’s shoulder. </p><p class="blockquote-new">I wept. So many, so many…so bloody many. Harm is done to our boys and our girls and like those widows, we are grateful if they just come home.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>When cross-questioned at Connor’s inquest, the student nurse changed her position and said she was not scared of me. She said I was a mother trying to do her best for her son.</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html">Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – A Death by Indifference</a>,</em>&nbsp;by Sara Ryan with a foreword by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.<br /> <strong>To order a copy for £12.99 go to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html">Jessica Kingsley Publishers</a>.</strong></p><hr /><p><iframe width="460" height="258" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gMtOGXBEDuo" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a style="font-size: 17px;" href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/justiceforlb?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Ehashtag">#JusticeforLB: Notes by Clare Sambrook</a></h2> <p>• Sara Ryan continues to blog at <a href="http://mydaftlife.wordpress.com/">mydaftlife</a>.</p> <p>• Connor’s family is supported by the charity&nbsp;<a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/">INQUEST</a>, and represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group member Charlotte Hird Haworth of Bindmans solicitors.</p> <p>• Six weeks after Connor died, an unannounced inspection of Slade House by the Care Quality Commission found it to be inadequate in all 10 measures of assessment. That CQC report, published in November 2013, can be found in <a href="https://mydaftlife.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/cqc-slade-house-final-report-1.pdf">PDF here.</a>&nbsp;Sara Ryan notes: “The report reads like an inspection of a Victorian asylum.”</p> <p>• In February 2014 the Verita report, commissioned by Southern Health, confirmed&nbsp;that Connor’s death was preventable. <a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/EasySiteWeb/GatewayLink.aspx?alId=76277">PDF here.</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>•&nbsp;A police investigation into Connor’s death was closed in August 2014.</p> <p>•&nbsp;An inquest jury determined in October 2015 that Connor’s death was contributed to by neglect and very serious failings —&nbsp;failings in the assessment, care and risk management of epilepsy in patients with learning disability, errors and omission in Connor’s care at the unit, Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Short Term Assessment and Treatment Unit (STATT), Slade House. The <a href="justiceforlb.org:full-jury-findings-connor-sparrowhawk-justiceforlb">full jury findings are here.</a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DNpj-P4XUAUI5qo.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Sara Ryan at the launch of her book, Doughty Street Chambers, 2 November 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DNpj-P4XUAUI5qo.jpg" alt="" title="Sara Ryan at the launch of her book, Doughty Street Chambers, 2 November 2017" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Sara Ryan at the launch of her book, Doughty Street Chambers, London, November 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>• Under pressure from the #JusticeforLB campaign, NHS England commissioned an independent review of deaths of people with a learning disability or mental health problem in contact with Southern Health (from April 2011 to March 2015), known as the Mazars review. Despite Southern Health’s attempts to stop it, the report was published in December 2015. Mazars identified multiple failures of leadership and governance, and revealed that Southern Health had failed properly to investigate more than a thousand unexpected deaths, and that fewer than 1% of the unexpected deaths of people with learning disabilities were looked into. <a href="https://www.england.nhs.uk/south/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/12/mazars-rep.pdf">PDF here.</a> The matter was debated in the House of Lords on 10 December 2015. <a href="https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldhansrd/text/151210-0001.htm">Text here</a>.</p> <p>• The Mazars findings prompted the Secretary of State for Health to ask the Care Quality Commission to examine how acute, community and mental health NHS trusts across England investigate and learn from deaths and identify necessary improvements. That review, published in December 2016 (<a href="https://www.cqc.org.uk/sites/default/files/20161213-learning-candour-accountability-full-report.pdf">PDF here</a>), reported that “families often have a poor experience of investigations and are not always treated with kindness, respect and honesty.” And: “This was particularly the case for families and carers of people with a mental health problem or learning disability.”</p> <p>•&nbsp;On 9 June 2016, Southern Health accepted full responsibility for Connor’s death, admitted negligence, admitted that it had violated both Connor’s and his family’s human rights. Statement <a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/">here</a> and below. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KatrinaPERCY_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Ex-chief executive Katrina Percy"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KatrinaPERCY_0.jpg" alt="" title="Ex-chief executive Katrina Percy" width="240" height="264" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ex-chief executive Katrina Percy</span></span></span>• In <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-36922039">July 2016 the BBC revealed</a> that Southern Health had handed contracts worth millions of pounds to past associates of chief executive Katrina Percy.</p><p>•&nbsp;In August 2016, under pressure from the public, patients and families bereaved by the Trust’s neglect, the Southern Health NHS Trust Board invited chief executive Katrina Percy to step sideways into a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-37288843">£240,000-a-year job created especially for her</a>. </p><p>• In October 2016, under continued pressure, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/190k-payoff-for-ex-chief-of-nhs-trust-that-failed-to-investig">Percy stepped down from that role with a £190,000 payoff</a>. At the time of writing (November 2017) Percy is advertising her <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/katrina-percy-88481258/">“strategic consultancy” services on Linkedin</a>. She cites her “inspirational and visionary leadership”, her reputation for “creating a culture which is open, accessible and energised”, and for “delivering ambitious service transformation, financial, quality and operational performance.”</p> <p>•&nbsp;In August 2017 a medical tribunal found multiple failings by Dr Valerie Murphy, the lead clinician responsible for treating Connor. During the tribunal Sara Ryan was grilled for two hours by Dr Murphy’s barrister which she described as a “barbaric experience”. Ryan <a href="http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15488161.__39_Inhumane__39___Connor_Sparrowhawk__39_s_mum_outraged_by_delay_to_tribunal_decision/">told the Oxford Mail</a>: “It was truly traumatising. It was a complete shock.” In November 2017 the tribunal found Murphy <a href="http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/15656594.TRIBUNAL___Deplorable__care_failures_in_Connor_Sparrowhawk_tragedy/">guilty of misconduct</a> and said she had failed in ways that “fellow professionals would regard to be deplorable.” The Tribunal is due to meet in February 2018 to consider a sanction for Dr Murphy.</p> <p>• On 18 September 2017, Southern Health <a href="http://press.hse.gov.uk/2017/southern-health-nhs-foundation-trust-pleads-guilty-following-hse-prosecution/">pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws</a> in relation to Connor’s death. Two months later Southern Health <a href="https://www.shponline.co.uk/southern-health-nhs-trust-admits-guilt-womans-death/">admitted guilt</a> in relation to the death in April 2012 of 45 year old Teresa Colvin. The Trust’s new chief executive Dr Nick Broughton said: “The prosecutions against the trust are extremely serious and have contributed to a wholesale programme of change.”</p><hr /><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="23" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">We can't stop thinking about this dream of <a href="https://twitter.com/sarasiobhan">@sarasiobhan</a> 's. Wouldn't it just be incredible? <a href="https://t.co/g4ugkT9Zl5">https://t.co/g4ugkT9Zl5</a> <a href="https://t.co/WexHTdOa6W">pic.twitter.com/WexHTdOa6W</a></p>— My Life My Choice (@mylifemychoice1) <a href="https://twitter.com/mylifemychoice1/status/723161111189659648">April 21, 2016</a></blockquote><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/">Trust statement regarding Connor Sparrowhawk’s death</a></h2> <p><span style="font-size: 1.2em;"><strong>Southern Health NHS Trust Statement, June 2016</strong></span></p><p>Almost three years ago Connor Sparrowhawk died while in our care, for which we are deeply sorry, and we would like to take this opportunity to again offer our unreserved apologies to his family for his preventable death.</p> <p>We have now been able to come to a successfully mediated settlement with Connor’s family, as detailed in the statement below. The statement and an easy version of the statement are also attached on the right hand side of this page as pdf documents.</p> <p><strong>PUBLIC STATEMENT BY THE TRUST</strong></p> <p>1. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust (“the Trust”) accepts that it was responsible for the death of Connor Sparrowhawk, an 18-year-old boy who was a much loved son, brother and friend. He died on 4th July 2013 whilst in the care and custody of the Short Term Assessment and Treatment (“STATT”) Unit, Slade House, for which the Trust was responsible. Connor’s preventable death was the result of multiple systemic and individual failures by the Trust in the care provided to Connor on the STATT Unit.</p> <p>2. The Trust accepts:</p> <p>(i) The findings of the independent investigation into the death of Connor Sparrowhawk by Verita, dated February 2014, which concluded that his death was preventable and found significant failings in the care provided to Connor in particular concerning the management of his epilepsy;</p> <h2><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/southern_banner.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/southern_banner.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="121" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/"></a></h2><p><a href="http://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/news-archive/2016/trust-statement-regarding-connor-sparrowhawks-death/"></a></p><p>(ii) The findings of the inquest jury on 16th October 2015, which determined that Connor died by drowning following an epileptic seizure while in the bath, contributed to by neglect* due to a number of very serious failings. These failings included both failures in the systems and processes in place to ensure adequate assessment, care and risk management of epilepsy in patients with learning disability at the STATT Unit, and in terms of errors and omissions in relation to Connor’s care whilst on the Unit. The Trust accepts that contributory factors included:</p> <ul><li>(a) A lack of clinical leadership on the STATT Unit;</li><li>(b) A lack of adequate training and the provision of guidance for nursing staff in the assessment, care and risk management of epilepsy;</li><li>(c) Very serious failings in relation to Connor’s bathing arrangements;&nbsp;</li><li>(d) Failure to complete an adequate history of Connor’s epilepsy;&nbsp;</li><li>(e) Failure to complete an epilepsy risk assessment soon after admission;</li><li>(f) Failure to complete an epilepsy risk assessment thereafter;&nbsp;</li><li>(g) Inadequate communication by staff with Connor’s family regarding his epilepsy care, needs and risks.</li></ul><p> 3. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust acknowledges and accepts that:</p> <p>(i) The failings identified by Verita and by the inquest jury:</p> <ul><li>(a) Caused Connor’s death.</li><li>(b) Were negligent breaches of the duty of care the Trust owed to Connor.</li><li>(c) Violated Connor’s right to life protected by Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.</li><li>(d) Violated the Article 2 rights of Connor’s family.</li></ul> <p>(ii) The Trust failed to take all reasonable steps to locate all relevant evidence and to disclose this to the Coroner and Connor’s family.</p> <p>4. The Trust will pay Connor’s family the sum of £80,000 by way of compensation for its unlawful acts and omissions.</p> <p>5. The Trust fully acknowledges that Dr. Sara Ryan has conducted herself and the Justice for LB campaign in a dignified, fair and reasonable way. To the extent that there have been comments to the contrary by Trust staff and family members of staff, these do not represent the view of the Trust and are expressly disavowed.</p> <p>*As that word is understood in coronial law.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><a href="http://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html"><em>Justice for Laughing Boy: Connor Sparrowhawk – &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;A Death by Indifference</em>, by Sara Ryan</a>&nbsp;with a foreword by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.&nbsp;</h2><h2><strong>To order a copy for £12.99 go to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.jkp.com/uk/justice-for-laughing-boy-2.html">Jessica Kingsley Publishers</a>.<hr /></strong></h2><p><strong><br /></strong></p><h2><strong><em>Produced by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></strong></h2><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/buses_line_CROP_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="23" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /></em></strong></p><p><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p><hr /><p><strong><em><br /></em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/tom-ryan/since-my-brother-s-preventable-death">Since my brother’s preventable death . . .</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/190k-payoff-for-ex-chief-of-nhs-trust-that-failed-to-investig">£190K payoff for ex-chief of NHS Trust that failed to investigate hundreds of unexpected deaths</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/imogen-tyler/connor-sparrowhawk-erosion-of-accountability-in-nhs">Connor Sparrowhawk: the erosion of accountability in the NHS</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/on-connor-sparrowhawk-s-avoidable-death">On Connor Sparrowhawk’s avoidable death</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sara-ryan/ministry-of-justice-says-you-don-t-need-lawyer-at-inquest-trust-state">Ministry of Justice says you don’t need a lawyer at an Inquest. Trust the State</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/ally-rogers/we-apologise-to-anybody-who-feels-let-down">‘We apologise to anybody who feels let down’</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight ourNHS Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Shine A Light Clare Sambrook Sara Ryan Wed, 29 Nov 2017 00:06:20 +0000 Sara Ryan and Clare Sambrook 114931 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Budget 2017 offered little. 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SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Closing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Signature" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Default Paragraph Font" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Message Header" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Salutation" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Date" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Heading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Block Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Hyperlink" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="FollowedHyperlink" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Document Map" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Plain Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="E-mail Signature" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Top of Form" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Bottom of Form" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal (Web)" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Acronym" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Address" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Cite" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Code" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Definition" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Keyboard" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Preformatted" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Sample" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Typewriter" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Variable" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal Table" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="annotation subject" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="No List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Contemporary" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Elegant" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Professional" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Balloon Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="Table Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Theme" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Placeholder Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Revision" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="19" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="21" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="31" QFormat="true" Name="Subtle Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="32" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="33" QFormat="true" Name="Book Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="37" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Bibliography" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" ></w> 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mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Arial",sans-serif; mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p><p>Day after day we witness the dangerous reality of austerity. #Budget2017 failed to alleviate the pain. But there is strength and power in our resistance.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/YW demo EDED Niki speakin 4_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/YW demo EDED Niki speakin 4_1.jpg" alt="Group of people holding banners and posters, which call for the of end destitution and detention. " title="" width="460" height="196" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Fight back: anti-austerity groups combine protest with community organising </span></span></span>It’s time to demand more. In parliament last Wednesday the government made small adjustments to the distribution of wealth and power. Austerity, a programme of policies that have caused death and destitution, remains in place. Out on the streets families starve, destitution is at record levels, work doesn’t pay.</p> <p>For three years Mimea, a 30-year-old&nbsp;woman from Uganda, was forced to live on £20 a week. She wasn’t entitled to state support because she was in the UK on a spousal visa. But she’d left her partner, he was violent.&nbsp;</p><p>She survived by living with a man she didn’t want to be with. He humiliated and harassed her. She couldn’t take a shower without him complaining. He would say she was wasting his money.</p><p>After escaping that relationship, Mimea was detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre, where she made an application for leave to remain in the UK. She was released from detention to wait for the Home Office response to her case. Meanwhile her status was still tied to her former partner. This meant she could not claim welfare benefits.</p> <p>Mimea’s kind of destitution doesn’t show up in official figures. Destitution means you don’t eat regularly, you can’t afford clothes. You are dependent on others, sometimes strangers, for a roof over your head, from one night to the next. Tens of thousands of people like Mimea aren’t counted. They live below the radar, sleeping on sofas, working cash in hand, unregistered.</p> <p>In 2015, the social policy and research charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation embarked on a project to measure destitution in the UK. The charity found more than one million people living in destitution during that year. This includes 312,000 children.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Joseph Rowntree Foundation report points out that social security for people on low incomes or in between jobs isn’t enough to survive on. Welfare benefits of £73 a week for a single person is 40% less than what’s needed to cover daily essentials. As an asylum seeker you get £36.95, just half that.</p> <p>Strikingly, 79% of destitute people were born in the UK, the charity says. Though “some migrant groups face disproportionate risks of destitution”.&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Poverty, a common story &nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>The fact that destitution is now a shared experience across different sections of society is an opportunity. It opens up the possibility of us coming together to defeat it.</p><p>Mimea won her right to stay in the UK and qualified for social security which lifted her from destitution to poverty.</p> <p>Every two weeks Mimea joins over 100 other women in London for a self-help meeting of the All African Women’s Group, also known as the AAWG. Some are mothers of small children; the majority are from countries where they have suffered rape or other torture. Some have physical disabilities and most have been traumatised. At our meetings, the added everyday trauma of destitution reveals itself.</p><p>One woman was embarrassed at a supermarket check-out because her asylum support payment card had no cash on it to pay. Another sat rigid with fear because she had no money for the bus fare to her Home Office appointment. She was terrified that she and her children would be detained for absconding. Another woman told of a friend who kindly let her stay when she was homeless. Then the friend’s husband demanded “payment”.</p> <p>These side effects of growing destitution aren’t just affecting our members. Back in September at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, we organised an event to discuss the issue. Single mothers, people with disabilities, asylum seekers and sex workers shared a platform, each told their own moving story.</p> <p>Gill Thompson spoke about her brother David Clapson, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/benefits-sanction-resulted-in-my-brother-david-clapson-s-death-says-gill-thompson-as-she-pleads-for-a6911386.html">who died two weeks after his benefits were stopped.</a> A McDonalds striker described workers being made homeless and destitute because they dared stand up to sexual harassment, bullying and violence from managers. Zero hour contracts bestow such power on managers, she said, that workers had “no choice but to do exactly as they are told otherwise they might lose the hours and then I’d be out on the streets.”</p> <h2><span><strong>Fake news</strong></span></h2> <p>One of the difficulties of challenging destitution is contempt for the poorest of us in much of the press.</p><p>Politicians and the media embellish or even invent stories such as: “Refugees on benefits trash £1.25m home” and “A million on benefit capable of work”. Stories aimed at painting people with disabilities and asylum seekers as bogus and scroungers.</p> <p class="p1">On rare occasions this fake news is debunked: the story that asylum seekers receive more support than pensioners, <a href="https://fullfact.org/news/are-illegal-immigrants-eligible-over-four-times-more-state-aid-pensioners/">was exposed as a lie</a>. But not before other newspapers, chat shows, and media outlets, each crediting the same story, had published and broadcast it.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2">Despite the misinformation and attempts to hijack public sympathy, the reality of rising destitution makes it harder to blame poverty on “fecklessness”.</p> <p class="p2"><a href="http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-84eb-One-in-8-workers-going-hungry-to-make-ends-meet#.Whg-KrZ0dBx">One in eight waged workers are going hungry</a>. And just two weeks ago&nbsp;<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/anorexic-woman-dead-universal-credit-benefits-cut-found-freezing-cold-flat-too-ill-meeting-elaine-a8045796.html">a mum of four died in her freezing home. </a>On Facebook her mother blamed the Department for Work and Pensions for her death. The young woman’s universal credit had been stopped, she couldn’t even afford to heat her home.</p> <p>These are not isolated examples. The government’s <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures">own data revealed that between December 2011 and February 2014</a>, 2,380 people died after being declared fit for work. That’s 90 people a month. A new study <a href="http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1117/161117-austerity-deaths-england">linked 120,000 deaths</a> to austerity since 2010.</p> <h2><br /> Time to fight back, demand more</h2> <p>As destitution grows so does the struggle against it. There is a growing movement of all kinds of people who are not only asking for more but demanding it. And in the Labour Party, there is an opposition which is echoing and spearheading that demand in the corridors of power.</p> <p>Brighton Migrant Solidarity spoke at our event in September about their “Thousand for a Thousand” scheme, which raises money to pay rent for homeless people. This is just one of many community efforts which have sprung up around the country, collecting and distributing food, clothing and sometimes small amounts of cash.</p> <p>Austerity has been shaken by these movements. The coming together of people to support each other through hard times directly challenges the view that some of us need less, want less and deserve less. In these new movements, people find strength and realise their worth. This will help us to resist. &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/austerity-stories-you-never-hear">Austerity stories you won’t hear about in today’s Budget </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/laurie-macfarlane/nowhere-to-call-home-englands-hidden-homeless">Nowhere to call home: England&#039;s &#039;hidden homeless&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openjustice/ronagh-craddock/asylum-seekers-are-left-destitute-and-homeless-due-to-lack-of-legal-aid">Asylum seekers are left destitute and homeless due to a lack of legal aid </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Austerity Ritah Kaggwa Niki Adams Fri, 24 Nov 2017 17:13:14 +0000 Niki Adams and Ritah Kaggwa 114884 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Austerity stories you won’t hear about in today’s Budget https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/austerity-stories-you-never-hear <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG ></o> <o:PixelsPerInch>96</o:PixelsPerInch> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:View>Normal</w:View> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:TrackMoves ></w> <w:TrackFormatting ></w> <w:PunctuationKerning ></w> <w:ValidateAgainstSchemas ></w> <w:SaveIfXMLInvalid>false</w:SaveIfXMLInvalid> <w:IgnoreMixedContent>false</w:IgnoreMixedContent> <w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText>false</w:AlwaysShowPlaceholderText> <w:DoNotPromoteQF ></w> 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UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="footnote reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="annotation reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="line number" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="page number" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="endnote reference" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="endnote text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="table of authorities" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="macro" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="toa heading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Bullet 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Number 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="10" QFormat="true" Name="Title" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Closing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Signature" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Default Paragraph Font" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="List Continue 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Message Header" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="11" QFormat="true" Name="Subtitle" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Salutation" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Date" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text First Indent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Heading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Body Text Indent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Block Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Hyperlink" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="FollowedHyperlink" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="22" QFormat="true" Name="Strong" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="20" QFormat="true" Name="Emphasis" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Document Map" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Plain Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="E-mail Signature" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Top of Form" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Bottom of Form" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal (Web)" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Acronym" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Address" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Cite" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Code" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Definition" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Keyboard" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Preformatted" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Sample" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Typewriter" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="HTML Variable" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Normal Table" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="annotation subject" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="No List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Outline List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Simple 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Classic 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Colorful 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Columns 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Grid 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table List 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table 3D effects 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Contemporary" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Elegant" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Professional" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Subtle 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Web 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Balloon Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" Name="Table Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Table Theme" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 7" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 8" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Note Level 9" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Placeholder Text" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="1" QFormat="true" Name="No Spacing" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" Name="Revision" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="34" QFormat="true" Name="List Paragraph" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="29" QFormat="true" Name="Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="30" QFormat="true" Name="Intense Quote" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 1" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 2" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 3" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 4" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="65" Name="Medium List 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="66" Name="Medium List 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="67" Name="Medium Grid 1 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="68" Name="Medium Grid 2 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="69" Name="Medium Grid 3 Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="70" Name="Dark List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="71" Name="Colorful Shading Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="72" Name="Colorful List Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="73" Name="Colorful Grid Accent 5" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="60" Name="Light Shading Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="61" Name="Light List Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="62" Name="Light Grid Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="63" Name="Medium Shading 1 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="64" Name="Medium Shading 2 Accent 6" ></w> <w:LsdException 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Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Mention" ></w> <w:LsdException Locked="false" SemiHidden="true" UnhideWhenUsed="true" Name="Smart Hyperlink" ></w> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> <!--[if gte mso 10]> <mce:style><! /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p><p class="p1"><span class="s1">Rhea needs a home. She is a full-time single mother of three living in destitution on the brink of homelessness.&nbsp;Yet two local authorities are reluctant to help.&nbsp;Why? </span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/budgetbox.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/budgetbox.jpg" alt="Red box with gold handle" title="" width="460" height="327" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hard times: For the last seven years British governments have cut spending on public services, which has hit the poorest households hardest. Image by Joe Giddens/PA Wire/PA Images </span></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p>One Friday evening last summer, Rhea* and her children walked through a north London neighbourhood. It was around six o’clock, pubs and bars on the high street were already heaving, customers holding glasses spilled onto the streets.</p><p>Grace* was nine, the boys, Benny* and Joseph*, were four and seven. They carried their belongings in rucksacks and bags. Rhea led them away from the noise of rush hour traffic, down a side street, the bars thinned out into residential houses. “We don’t have anywhere to go,” she told them. “Don’t be frightened. Cooperate.”</p> <p>Their latest troubles had begun three months before when their rented flat flooded. Water poured through the ceiling, the children’s beds got soaked. A fire officer said there was a problem with the boiler and the flat was unsafe. Rhea and the children stayed with a friend for the night. Next day she called the council for help.</p><p>Council staff didn’t point blank refuse to help. They dodged and prevaricated. It took a week and angry tears before Rhea could get an appointment to be assessed. (The assessment is a statutory duty related to the children’s needs. It ought to have determined whether the family qualified for temporary housing and subsistence while the flat was fixed.)&nbsp;Rhea expected a formal meeting, questions, a decision. But it wasn’t like that. Instead the council response was piecemeal, random, frightening.</p> <p>Rhea and her children bounced from one temporary home to another. Briefly, home was a bed-sit, one of five in a terraced house with a shared kitchen and bathroom. In the other bedsits lived a woman with a baby, another mother and her two children, and an elderly man who had mental health problems.</p> <p>It didn’t feel safe.</p><p>The children were eating dinner one evening when there was a knock at the door. Their social worker. She fired questions: <em>Why are the children eating pizza? Who bought it for them?</em></p> <p>Still no help.</p><p>Rhea was on the bus taking her son to nursery when one day when her phone rang. More questions.</p> <p>At the doctors having a blood test to find out why her eyesight had dimmed. Another phone call. The council. <em>You must come in now. </em>They needed to ask her more questions.<em> If you don’t attend, it will be marked as non-compliance, which will invalidate your claim. </em>Off<em> </em>she went.</p> <p>Except for the couple of times the council gave Rhea a food bank voucher, the interrogations rarely translated into actual help. <em>We don’t have a house, can you find somewhere else to sleep? Can you come back tomorrow? Why are you here?</em></p> <p>Some nights Rhea and the children slept on sofas. They slept three nights in a church. Weeks went by and the family still had nowhere to live, and no access to the flat. The children’s school provided uniforms for Grace and Joseph. Grace’s school continued to feed her. The outstanding school dinner fees were added to Rhea’s debt. (A year later that’s around £400).</p> <p>Rhea had turned to the council because she needed help. Eventually the council would turn her away, but before that Rhea was subjected to what felt like trial by local authority staff. She was judged, accused, threatened.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right"><span>Councils are rationing services in sometimes random ways, making assumptions about whether people are deserving or undeserving</span></p> <p>This wasn’t a case of one bad experience. Stretched local authorities are forced to prioritise services. By design or by accident, council officers are rationing services in sometimes random ways, and making assumptions about whether people are deserving or undeserving.</p> <p>*** &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Since the 2007 financial crash, British governments have pursued a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/ng-interactive/2015/apr/29/the-austerity-delusion">policy of austerity</a>, making deep cuts to services for people in crisis. In the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10371590">June 2010 budget George Osborne</a> announced cuts so severe that even the BBC’s Nick Robinson called the Chancellor’s statement a “massive gamble economically and politically”.</p> <p>Since then the government has cut and cut again funding for <a href="https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/justice-committee/news/lapso-report/">legal aid</a>, <a href="http://www.cih.org/news-article/display/vpathDCR/templatedata/cih/news-article/data/Nearly_250000_of_the_cheapest_rented_homes_will_be_lost_between_2012_and_2020">social homes</a>, <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2015/future-of-supported-housing-launch-16-17/">supported housing</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/feb/10/councils-budget-cuts-social-care-bills">social services</a>, <a href="https://gingerbread.org.uk/content/1813/Paying-the-price">lone parent support</a>, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/30/benefits-sanctions-a-policy-based-on-zeal-not-evidence">welfare benefits</a> and other public services.</p><p>Pain is spread across groups, <a href="https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/2013/02/fawcetts-bid-for-a-judicial-review-of-the-2010-budget-2/">mostly falling on women</a>, and <a href="http://wbg.org.uk/news/new-research-shows-poverty-ethnicity-gender-magnify-impact-austerity-bme-women/">mostly ethnic minority women</a>. Grace, Benny and Joseph are among the <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/theresa-accused-being-denial-over-10038973">growing number of British childre</a>n growing up in poverty. If planned tax and benefit changes go ahead, by 2020, their lives will <a href="http://cpag.org.uk/content/uk-set-biggest-increase-child-poverty-generation">become even harder</a><span>.</span></p> <p>And the cuts will hurt Grace and her brothers more than most children. Here’s why.</p> <p>When you look at the cumulative impact of tax, welfare benefits and spending polices since 2010, it is <a href="https://www.intersecting-inequalities.com/">black and brown women who lose most</a>. The Women’s Budget Group and the Runnymede Trust, who’ve done this analysis, predict that if austerity continues, by 2020, Asian women in the poorest households will be worse off by £2,200. That’s twice the loss of white men in the poorest households. The richest white men would lose £400.&nbsp;</p> <p>Black and Asian lone mothers would lose £4,000 and £4,200 a year on average by 2020. That is around 15 and 17 per cent of their net income.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>“The data produced by these models tells a powerful story — showing clearly that across all income groups BME women have experienced greater losses in proportion to their income than white women or BME men,” say the Women’s Budget Group.&nbsp;</p></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report combines <a href="https://www.intersecting-inequalities.com/about">economic analysis and interviews</a> with working class women and young people in Manchester and Coventry. Their stories chime with Rhea’s. The system punishes them more than it helps.</p><p class="mag-quote-right"><span>Asian women will be worse off by £2,200. Twice the loss of white men in the poorest households. The richest white men would lose £400</span></p> <p>Cuts to housing benefit and tax credits have made it harder to pay for food and housing. Jobcentre staff and other state representatives can make women feel pressured, punished, unworthy. Women may be sanctioned by mistake, driven into debt, forced to stay in violent relationships to avoid destitution.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile social housing is in short supply. Rhea needs a home. She is a full-time single mother of three living in destitution on the brink of homelessness.&nbsp;Yet two local authorities hesitated before even <em>considering</em> finding her somewhere to live.&nbsp;</p> <p>Why is this happening?</p> <p>***</p> <p>Under the new Housing and Planning Act councils must prioritise the provision of homes for sale (starter homes for first time buyers) over social housing. When the Act was first <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/historic-housing-and-planning-bill-will-transform-generation-rent-into-generation-buy">published</a> in October 2016 it was billed part of a “national crusade to get 1 million homes built by 2020”, transforming “generation rent into generation buy”.&nbsp;</p> <p>Small comfort for anyone who can’t afford to buy their own home (in London, where Rhea lives, the average house price is £480,000, Even with the 20 per cent discount promised under the Act’s starter home policy, a household would need an annual income of more than £100,000 to find a mortgage).&nbsp;</p> <p>The small print of the Act is still being worked out, but councils are already turning people away, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2017/feb/14/homelessness-women-disadvantaged-channel-4-councils">especially women</a>. When challenged about their duties to the most vulnerable councils are quick to point out the pressure they are under. The government cut funding for local authorities by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2015.&nbsp;The deepest cuts per head have fallen in the most deprived areas.</p> <p>And as central government funding shrinks, councils are forced to ration the support they give. Some local administrators are even <a href="https://nearlylegal.co.uk/2014/10/long-winding-road/">refusing to carry out their statutory duties</a> to help survivors of domestic violence, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/07/charities-giving-home-office-details-of-rough-sleepers-says-report">destitute migrants</a> and their families, <a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/policy/health-and-care/homelessness/nearly-two-thirds-of-councils-struggling-to-find-tenancies-for-homeless-people/7019328.article">homeless people</a><em> </em>and others in dire need.</p> <p>One London councillor asked Rhea why she had children in the first place. Collectively the council officially denied that it had a duty to house her. And five times Children’s Services tried to split up the family.</p> <p>***</p> <p>The first time was very soon after she became homeless.&nbsp;</p> <p>“The option we have now, we want to take your children,” one of the officers told her. “We have got accommodation, but only for your children.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Rhea had spent the day pleading with council staff, being passed from department to department, waiting for hours, being told to come back another day. But Rhea refused to leave. She had nowhere to go, her children were by her side.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The children will go into foster care</em>, they said, <em>we just need you to sign an agreement.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>“No way,” Rhea was furious. <em>You have to sign, </em>they said.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I can’t sign anything. You can’t separate me from my children,” she said, in tears.&nbsp;</p> <p>More talking, she felt the pressure to give her children away. <em>Why am I here? It’s because of these children. They can’t, I will never.</em></p> <p>Rhea’s head hurt. The children began to cry.&nbsp;</p> <p>“If you can kill me, then you can take them. If you can’t then no.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Hours passed. Rhea continued to protest, she lay on the floor, crying and refusing to leave. The council officers threatened to call the police, then they did. Rhea asked the officer: “Am I a criminal?” He said she wasn’t.&nbsp;</p> <p>Things could have turned even worse. But then Grace, in tears, said she had a friend at school, they could stay with her. <em>Or what about the woman that helped us last time?</em></p> <p>A council officer seized on that, demanded the woman’s contact details, phoned her and fired questions at her. It didn’t seem right. She was just a kind acquaintance who had put the family up once before. Then she passed the phone to Rhea, who pleaded. The woman said: “I don’t want them to take your children, just come.”</p> <p>***</p> <p>After that Rhea kept the children with her whenever they weren’t at school. But Grace worried they might be taken away from their mum while they were at school. All three of the children cowered when the social worker came to see them.&nbsp;The fear of separation stayed with them.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rhea knew this and tried to reassure them the Friday night they traipsed through those north London streets. She wanted them to feel safe. They wouldn’t go to the council this time, they would go the police. “Don’t be frightened. The police are your friend.”</p> <p>Rhea and her family walked into the police station, a grand redbrick building with high curved archways. Rhea told them her story. The council had finally said no and refused to house them nearly a month ago. They spent three weeks with a stranger, but she’d asked them to leave. They’d gone to Shelter, the homelessness charity, who were helping them to apply for housing with another local authority, but meanwhile they were homeless.&nbsp;</p> <p>A police officer told them: “We are here for crime, not housing.”</p> <p>“Whatever,” Rhea said. “This place is safe. That is why I am here. It is safe for me and my children and I am here.”</p> <p>***</p> <p>That June, just a few miles across London, Theresa May, the new Prime Minister, stood outside Number 10 Downing Street and seemed to signal a kinder, more responsible style of government. She wanted to help the “just about managing” and tackle “burning injustices”.</p> <p>Was that just talk? The cuts have continued, the country’s much-needed social safety net is in tatters. &nbsp;</p> <p>May did commission a <a href="https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/">“race audit”</a>, a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/13/theresa-may-race-disparity-audit">collection of statistics</a> showing how different ethnic groups in Britain experience health, education, justice and employment. The report, published in October, confirmed <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/03/theresa-may-race-equality-report-racism-inequality-britain">what so many people know by experience:</a> life is tougher in Britain if you are from an ethnic minority and/or poor. Children on free school meals from black and Asian backgrounds do well in school, but as they get older their outcomes change. For the worse. They face harsher, more punitive treatment in the courts and in prison. They face a tough and discriminatory jobs market. Pakistani and Bangladeshi British people are the least likely to be in employment. Fewer than half of people from Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and mixed backgrounds own their home. This is compared to more than two thirds of people from a white or Indian background.</p> <p>Rhea’s experience isn’t exceptional. The statistics, the government’s own evidence, all suggest that inequality and poverty is growing, social security nets are being shredded. Rhea knows what this feels like. Her children, growing up black and in precarity, have all this to overcome.</p><p>And more.&nbsp;</p><p><span>As a migrant Rhea is subject to the </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/10/immigration-bill-theresa-may-hostile-environment">‘hostile environment’</a><span> policies designed to make life in Britain tough for the poorest migrants. Policies spearheaded by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary. The idea is to restrict access to public services in order to&nbsp; deter people from coming to the UK.</span></p> <p>Transferring ‘gatekeeping at the border’ to ‘gatekeeping access to services’, is how <a href="https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/media/PR-2015-No_Recourse_Public_Funds_LAs.pdf">migration experts</a> describe it. That deliberate hostility, enshrined in law, policy and practice, seeps into how people think and behave.</p> <p>Rhea’s experience illustrates the impact all this can have.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>***</p> <p>Rhea is 39 and came to Britain in her late twenties. Her three children were born in the UK. When she became homeless Rhea realised she had no access to public funds because she’d overstayed on her travel visa. Before this she worked, had a normal life. It was only in crisis that she was forced to turn to the state. She is in the process of regularising her status. It’s been more than a year since the Home Office wrote to say they were considering her case. Grace, who was born in the UK, must apply for citizenship too. For this Grace’s application Rhea will need to find £973.</p> <p>As someone with ‘no recourse to public funds’ she can’t access mainstream welfare benefit like housing benefit, jobseekers allowance or working tax credits. Nor can she access social housing or homelessness assistance. &nbsp;Her children are affected too. A child can access public funds only when they turn 18. Before that child benefit and other child-centred support is awarded to their main carer. If their main carer has no recourse to public funds, they receive nothing. Free school meals count as a public fund, so Grace, Benny and Joseph don’t qualify, not even when they were destitute and homeless.</p> <p>How many children are affected by this? The hardship faced by those families with ‘no recourse to public funds’ is not captured by the race audit. But two studies from 2015 and 2016 offer some insight.</p><p class="mag-quote-right"><span>Free school meals count as a public fund, so Grace, Benny and Joseph don’t qualify, not even when they were destitute and homeless</span></p> <h2><span>Some background</span></h2> <p><a href="https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/2015/safeguarding-children-from-destitution-local-authority-responses-to-families-with-no-recourse-to-public-funds/">A study by Oxford University academics</a> published in 2015 reveals a tension between child safety legislation and Home Office policy towards migrant families. Councils have a duty to support vulnerable children. They also have to administer aspects of the hostile environment. As one local authority staff member <a href="https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/media/PR-2015-No_Recourse_Public_Funds_LAs.pdf">told researchers</a>, “A negative attitude towards them as a client group can be reinforced by the Home Office saying they should all go back…”.</p> <p>Restrictions on benefits for migrants goes back decades. The Labour government formally restricted access to the bulk of mainstream welfare and support for many migrants within the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.</p> <p>Families with no recourse could still potentially access accommodation and some support from social services under the Children Act 1989, providing the household contained a ‘child in need’. But then in 2002, the Labour government amended the law to further restrict the ability of <a href="https://www.gov.uk/eu-eea">EEA nationals</a> and undocumented migrants to rely on this safety net. At the same time they further complicated the process local authorities use to assess whether families receive help. It can take many weeks.</p> <p><strong>Then Theresa May made life even harder.</strong></p> <p>In changes to the Immigration Rules introduced in 2012, she made ‘no recourse to public funds’ the default position for many migrants granted ‘limited’ (up to ten years) leave to remain in the UK. </p> <p>And so the number of low-paid, precarious or unpaid migrant workers with children subject to benefit restrictions grew. At the same time government pushed the financial burden off its shoulders and onto local authority social services’ departments. Councils were left to administer a complex assessment process under the Children Act and support those children, and their families, whose destitution had reached such a level that they were assessed as being ‘in need’.</p> <p>How many families are affected? The Oxford University<strong>&nbsp;</strong>study, carried out by <a href="https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/about/about-compas/">COMPAS</a>, estimates that local authorities supported roughly 3,391 families with no recourse to public funds, including around 5,900 children in 2012/13.</p> <p>More than 50,000 people with dependents were denied access to public funds between 2014 and 2015, according to the Children’s Society. <strong>How many children were turned away? Nobody was counting.</strong></p> <p>The charity estimates that there are approximately 144,000 undocumented children living in England and Wales, more than half are born in the UK.</p> <blockquote><p>“They [no recourse families] have generally been in the UK for a considerable period of time, are well integrated and were not reliant on the state until a crisis provoked their referral,” the COMPAS report says. “Precarious living and relationships of dependency expose some parents and children to exploitation.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“Where support is provided, subsistence rates are well below minimum welfare benefit levels and below those provided for refused asylum seekers. Accommodation is often in B&amp;Bs, which local authorities acknowledge are unsuitable for the welfare of the child. Parents’ reasons for remaining in the UK despite the hardship and insecurity it entails largely relate to the future education and welfare of their children.”</p></blockquote> <p><a href="https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/resources-and-publications/making-life-impossible-how-the-needs-of-destitute-migrant">A report by the Children’s Society</a> echoes this and brings fresh evidence of the increasing destitution of no recourse families. Councils place barriers to them receiving any support. Children are left hungry and without lunch for school, they are made street homeless, and forced to live hours from school. The charity says: “These children and their parents face extreme levels of destitution and risk which are multiple and varied including living in unsafe accommodation, being unable to afford food and engaging in informal sexual relationships for small amounts of money.”</p> <p>Councils receive zero funding from the Home Office to cover the millions they now spend on families with no recourse. Lawyers say that changes (yet to be introduced) contained in Theresa May’s Immigration Act 2016 will make things even worse.</p> <p>***</p> <p>That night at the police station in June 2016, an officer gave Rhea and her children an interview room. The boys slept. Grace watched her mum phoning everyone she knew. She called the council’s out of hours number. They told her the case had been closed and hung up. </p> <p>What happens now? You can imagine the unhappy ways that Rhea’s story goes from here.</p> <p>But Rhea’s quest had already led her to a Sunday meeting in East London. She’d met other women like her: “There are lots of people going through this. A lot of women. Everybody is scared.”</p> <p>She had begun to understand the law and what was happening to her. “Before all this I didn’t know about no recourse. I didn’t know anything.”</p> <p>The group, called <a href="https://nelmacampaigns.wordpress.com/home/">Nelma</a>, offers solidarity, a place to eat, relax and talk and the kind of practical support that Rhea wasn’t getting from the council. It was set up by volunteers from migrant drop-in centres across north London, volunteers alarmed by the accelerating damage being done to the people who came to them for help.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-right"><span>&nbsp;</span><a href="https://nelmacampaigns.wordpress.com/home/">Nelma</a><span>&nbsp;offers solidarity, a place to eat, relax and talk and the kind of practical support that Rhea wasn’t getting from the council</span></p> <p>They were meeting destitute asylum seekers, migrants fallen on hard times, homeless pensioners who have lived in Britain all their lives told they have to pay for NHS treatment, Eastern Europeans worried about the implications of Brexit.</p> <p>They were meeting people with no recourse to public funds who were being denied support from the council. More and more frequently, they were hearing that people were being treated with something worse than discourtesy: contempt.</p> <p>The volunteers started an accompanying service, so that people wouldn’t have to go alone to meetings with the council. They take notes, offer emotional support, act as a witness.</p> <p>“It’s really quite dehumanising. People come to these appointments already in difficult emotional situations, already facing destitution,” says Sophie, a Nelma volunteer. “They are faced with aggressive questioning, bullying tactics. Often social services bring the attitude that if you are asking for support you must be lying. Trying to catch people out.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>“The atmosphere can be very very tense. And very very exhausting. And it often goes on for days. Often at the end of the day the council will say, ‘We can’t support you. You need to come back tomorrow with all this evidence.’”</p></blockquote> <p>That is evidence of destitution. In the form of an eviction letter, bank statements, proof of residency.</p><p>When Rhea needed proof of her destitution, Nelma helped her gather it. When the council refused to believe her old flat was unsafe, Nelma called the fire station and got a statement from the officer who inspected her flat and told her it wasn’t safe.</p> <p>Nelma activists don’t see themselves as service providers or a charity. Sophie, a researcher in her day-job, said: </p><blockquote><p>“We want to address the wider injustice of no recourse to public funds, we think it should end. The wider injustices of council gatekeeping practices. These practices are obstructing routes to support for some of the most vulnerable people in society. We want to help people navigate this really difficult situation but we also want to call attention to injustices of that situation in the first place and campaign for change.”</p></blockquote> <p>***</p> <p>After a frantic weekend of calls, Rhea and her Nelma friends managed to secure a meeting at a different local authority for Monday morning. Rhea worried that the whole humiliating process would start again.</p> <p>But this social services staff member behaved professionally, informed Rhea of her rights and what to expect. A social worker visited the children’s school. The council gave her a bus pass and a Sainsbury’s voucher. Over the next month the family stayed in four B&amp;Bs, each day Rhea sent a text to find out where they would be sleeping that night. Eventually, last winter, the council found them a temporary flat close to the children’s school. It was nearly five months since they’d left their flooded flat.</p> <p>The struggle isn’t over for Rhea and her children. They remain subject to immigration control, the hostile environment, the daily bombardment of the message: <em>you are undeserving, you have brought your troubles upon yourself</em>. As one Nelma member puts it: “If you don’t have status you are nobody”.</p> <p>It’s hard not to internalise that message, Rhea says, to become depressed and defeated. But the comradeship she has found through Nelma, have helped her to resist.</p> <p>Rhea hands leaflets out to other mothers at school, joins in protests, supports others, spreads the word. Her children inspire her. “They are innocent. In this life, there are some things you can’t make a choice of. Where you are born, who gave birth to you. You can’t choose.” </p> <p><span>&nbsp;</span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span>*Names changed to protect identity.&nbsp;</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi-izzy-koksa/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-land">Housing activists stand up to dodgy landlords and council bullies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phoebe-braithwaite/refuse-retract-resist-boycott-schools-census">Refuse, retract, resist: boycott the schools census </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/rats-in-yard-4-years-of-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">Rats in the yard: 4 years of UK asylum housing by G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/end-of-domestic-violence-support-for-black-and-brow">The end of domestic violence support for black and brown women in the UK?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight London austerity housing Austerity Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:59:25 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi 114821 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How to start a housing movement https://www.opendemocracy.net/izzy-koksal/how-to-start-your-own-housing-rights-movement <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><span style="color: #323333; font-family: Helvetica; -webkit-text-stroke-color: #323333; -webkit-text-stroke-width: initial;">Radical groups working on housing, racism, poverty, sex worker and migrant rights are springing up all over London. Embedded in local communities, they are seasoned activists, precarious workers and families.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <h2><span>Final part of our Q&amp;A with&nbsp;<a href="https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com/">Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth</a>, a community group challenging housing injustice in south London. Read part one introducing the group <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi-izzy-koksa/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-land">here</a>, and part two, on their housing actions <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/izzy-koksal-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-landlords-and-council-bulli">here</a>.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></h2><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/saveourhomeshat." rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/saveourhomeshat." alt="Pink hat with Save Our Homes written across it. " title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>More and more radical housing groups are springing up across London. Image by Wasi Daniju. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><em><strong>Our questions and subheads are in bold, with Izzy’s answers immediately following.</strong></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>What does HASL’s&nbsp;work involve?</h2><p>Our regular meetings are probably the most important part of our work, as this is where we build experience in different types of housing issues, housing law, how councils behave, and possible solutions. </p> <p>The group meetings mean that we can draw on this experience and everyone can contribute in whatever way they feel able. One of the best things is when someone who came to the group with a housing problem, sorts it out and is then able to share their experience with a new member doing something similar.</p> <p>We try to make the meetings as accessible as possible. We have Spanish-English translation and we are working on making our meetings much more kid friendly.</p> <p>We run legal training sessions, again to develop the knowledge and capacity of our group so that we can stick up for each other.</p> <p>And there’s buddying. A buddy goes along with you when you meet the council. They give moral support, take notes. They support you in asserting your rights. Having a buddy can make the difference between getting temporary accommodation or getting fobbed off. Some of our long-term members (having resolved their own cases) have been really forthcoming about offering this help to new members of the group.</p><p>We organise actions together if we have been ignored by the council or if there seems to be no other available options. We plan actions around campaigns that we have been working on. For Southwark council protests, we gather as large a group as we can organise and head to the town hall. Going together as a big group means we’re harder to ignore. It is also a really accessible action, everyone can be involved and it breaks down language barriers.</p><p>Sometimes it works and gives direct results. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it is part of a longer-term campaign. Organising together means we don’t give up! Through occupations at Southwark town hall, one family were re-housed by the council back in their local community.</p> <p>Our tweets and blogs draw support and share experience and intelligence. We’ve used Twitter storms (a coordinated mass campaign) to force Southwark council to house a <a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/05/05/disbelieved-how-domestic-violence-victims-face-homelessness">domestic violence survivor and her children.</a> Councillors don’t like their appalling decisions being publicly exposed.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/weneedmorespace_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/weneedmorespace_0.jpg" alt="Woman hanging up freshly painted posters which say, "We need more space". " title="" width="300" height="161" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><strong>Building solidarity with other activist groups</strong></p> <p>We work with sister groups in the London Coalition Against Poverty, such as Haringey Housing Action Group and other groups. These include <a href="http://www.efalondon.org/">English for Action</a>, <a href="https://nelmacampaigns.wordpress.com/">North East London Migrant Action</a>, and <a href="http://www.sistersuncut.org/">South East London Sisters Uncut</a>. We’re planning housing rights workshops with United Voices of the World and a local mums’ group called Espacio Mama.</p> <p><a href="http://novaramedia.com/2017/03/21/immigration-deportation-homelessness-charities-local-councils-european-rough-sleepers-st-mungos-thamesreach/">We’ve been supporting North East London Migrant Action’s campaign</a> and legal challenge against the government’s policy of detaining and deporting EEA nationals caught rough sleeping. Yesterday we joined them&nbsp;outside court for the first day of the judicial review to challenge this hateful government policy. It’s great to support each other’s work and make links between the issues we face. It helps us feel a lot bigger too!</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/homesnotborders.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/homesnotborders.jpg" alt="Protestors outside court building with placards and banners. Slogans say: homes not borders/" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Joining forces: HASL with migrant solidarity and housing activists protesting Home Office deportations of Eastern European rough sleepers. </span></span></span></p><h2>Do you have advice for people wanting to fight for decent housing where they live? </h2> <p>Don’t give up. This came up repeatedly at the last <a href="https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/hasl-host-the-lcap-general-meeting-report/">London Coalition Against Poverty</a> meeting we went to. It’s like a mantra of collective organizing. We support each other and we are stronger together. Our successes, like forcing the council to reconsider making a family homeless, show that when we work together we can achieve a lot.</p><p>So many of our members deal with difficult situations. Families live in overcrowded housing, people face imminent homelessness, survivors fleeing abuse. All unable to get adequate help.</p> <p>On top of this, members of our group deal with health problems (often exacerbated by bad housing), they balance this with parenting, full-time paid work, unpaid work. The pressures on us are relentless.</p> <p>But returning to the group helps relieve some of these pressures. We make progress by dealing with them together, by drawing on each other’s strengths and experience. Our members remain involved even after their cases are resolved. Most of our new members come through recommendations by friends. We have members who’ve been involved in a really committed way for over a year. That they keep on coming to meetings shows how important it is to them.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/hasl hallresized.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/hasl hallresized.jpg" alt="Smiling men, women and small children stand in centre of a church hall. " title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>HASL families take a break. Image by HASL. Used with permission. </span></span></span></p><p><strong>Setting up a housing solidarity group </strong></p> <p>There’s a <a href="http://www.lcap.org.uk/?p=552">booklet written by LCAP </a>with good advice about organising together on housing. When HASL first started, we used this and the inspiring stories we’d heard about <a href="https://hackneyhousinggroup.wordpress.com/">Hackney Housing Group’s</a> organising.</p> <p>In the beginning, the most useful things that we did include:</p><ul><li>** linking up with other local groups who shared our concerns,</li><li>** leafleting outside housing offices,</li><li>** getting advice from other LCAP groups,<br />** and holding a ‘know your rights’ training sessions to build our knowledge.</li></ul> <p>Make your meetings accessible. Organise translation and childcare for example. Come up with concrete steps and action points. Allocate jobs (ringing the council, writing a petition, managing the Twitter feed). People will then see things are happening and how they can help.</p> <h2>What are the things to think about when resisting gatekeeping, dealing with difficult case work, investigating the state, blogging, staying well, protesting, finding time to be positive and imaging a better future?</h2> <p>I think this is a really good list of some of the challenges we face and some of our activities. I’d add the feeling of the sheer scale of what we face to this list.</p><p>In the last year, our meetings have grown from 10 people to about 25-30, which felt like a great achievement. But in less time, an entire estate of private rented flats was built in our neighbourhood. More housing for rich residents. They moved in before we could protest the development by starting an occupation.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/community.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/community.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A soon-to-be demolished housing estate in south London. Image by Wasi Daniju. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p> <p>And figuring out how to facilitate bigger meetings of 30 people with immediate housing issues has also been a bit of a challenge.</p> <p>I think doing things together helps make everything feel less overwhelming and often makes whatever it is more enjoyable and just better generally. Our meetings are places where we can check in with each other about our cases and they are a focus for us, because that’s where we can best deal with our issues.</p> <p>We try to meet up in other ways in between meetings. We’ve run lunch clubs, we meet at our London Coalition Against Poverty meetings. And more recently we set up the homework club which was really busy and popular, with both kids and adults! It is useful to have more time to hang out together and work on practical tasks. People learn from each other, the work is more evenly distributed. It builds solidarity, rather than create a service dynamic, which can be a problem in housing action groups.&nbsp;</p> <h2>What difference does HASL make to you?</h2><p>After one of our busiest meetings, where we were all crammed into our meeting room, a young boy who I hadn’t met before turned to me and said very seriously: “That was a good meeting.” I was a little taken aback. He was definitely right. I was exhausted from the meeting but there was a lot of energy from everyone there. Then he said it again, “That was a good meeting.” It could have been because we’d just eaten a chocolate caterpillar cake to celebrate one of our members getting council housing. I realised afterwards that I should have asked him what he thought was good about it. Other HASL kids have also asked me when the next meeting will be. It’s really lovely that for them too, the group has become a feature in their lives.</p><p>At our last meeting, we celebrated with three families who had lived in overcrowded housing and had finally managed to get council homes. They have been key members for over a year. “We couldn't have done it without you,” one them, Gloria, told us all.</p><p>Another member and her family lived in their council home for a year. Every time I have met her since they moved in, she has told me how it has changed their life. “Before I went to the housing office and they said ‘no, no, no’. And then you wrote a letter. Every evening, I sit in my living room and look out of the window and I am thankful.”</p> <p>For me personally, I’m so inspired and proud seeing my HASL friends, often dealing with&nbsp;terrible housing situations, fight their cases and support others. It’s really inspiring seeing collective organising, support and solidarity work and win. To help facilitate that and be involved is really special.</p><hr /><p><span>Every month a </span><a href="http://metro.co.uk/2017/10/14/mourners-march-to-grenfell-tower-in-complete-silence-in-memory-of-fire-victims-7000539/">silent walk</a><span> is held in memory of the victims and suvivors of the Grenfell tower fire. The next march will be held on </span><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/502913553441210">14th December.&nbsp;</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Note from the editor</em></p><p>We offered both Lambeth and Southwark council right of reply to Shine’s articles, which raise serious issues about social housing allocations in their areas. Southwark has yet to comment. A spokesperson from Lambeth council said:</p><blockquote><p>“Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have contacted us several times regarding a small number of cases. We have investigated these and provided full responses to them on multiple occasions.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>We thoroughly assess all homelessness applications and deal with them appropriately. There is ever-increasing demand for accommodation of all kinds in Lambeth and we work hard to direct to available resources to those who are most in need.</p><p>In accordance with the Housing Act 1996, our allocation scheme gives preference to applicants judged to be in the most need. Applicants are kept fully informed of the level of their priority throughout.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Lambeth is in the grip of a housing crisis – with over 23,000 families on our waiting list, 1,800 homeless and in temporary accommodation, and many council tenants living in dilapidated accommodation that we can’t afford to refurbish. We need to do everything we can to tackle this problem, within stringent spending limits.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The council is taking a lead in bold, but necessary, decisions like estate rebuilding to tackle the shortage of genuinely affordable housing, and to build better homes for our existing tenants and more homes for the wider community.”</p><p>&nbsp;</p></blockquote><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi-izzy-koksa/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-land">Housing activists stand up to dodgy landlords and council bullies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/izzy-koksal-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-landlords-and-council-bulli">How housing activists are challenging town hall decisions</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/residents-challenge-Lambeth-plans-to-demolish-homes">Residents challenge council plans to demolish their homes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight London Housing Rights housing Izzy Koksal Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:00:23 +0000 Izzy Koksal 114815 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Housing activists stand up to dodgy landlords and council bullies https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi-izzy-koksa/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-land <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> 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mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Calibri",sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;} --> <!--[endif] --> <!--StartFragment--> <!--EndFragment--></p><p>The Grenfell tower fire forced a public debate on housing inequality in London. Tenants have long been at the mercy of landlords, private and social. But resistance is growing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/PA-JusticeGrenfellresized.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/PA-JusticeGrenfellresized.jpg" alt="Graffiti on a red brick wall. Reads Justice 4 Grenfell." title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Graffiti near Grenfell tower in London. NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>In the early hours on 14th June more than 70 people died when <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/14/what-happened-at-grenfell-tower-london-fire-visual-guide">fire engulfed a 24-storey tower block</a> in west London. More than <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/17/london-fire-brigade-dany-cotton-grenfell-tower">350 firefighters</a> worked to extinguish the flames over several hours.</p><p>Hundreds were trapped in the upper floors of the building while the fire raged, including 6-month-old <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/28/baby-found-dead-mothers-arms-grenfell-tower">Leena Belkadi</a>. The baby girl was found dead in her mother’s arms in a stairwell between the 19th and 20th floors.</p><p>Grenfell tower was home to a mixed community of working-class families, young couples, refugees, migrants, elderly residents living alone.</p> <p>The final death toll is unknown. There are fears that unregistered migrants who lived in the block may never be identified. Just <a href="http://news.met.police.uk/news/family-tributes-to-victims-of-grenfell-tower-fire-247006">71 victims</a> have been identified so far. In June the Metropolitan police said it could take months to identify everyone. Last week the Met&nbsp;<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42008279?intlink_from_url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/c1xp19pvkkrt/grenfell-tower-fire&amp;link_location=live-reporting-story">said</a>: “Based on all the work carried out so far and the expert advice, it is highly unlikely there is anyone who remains inside Grenfell Tower.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/about/">An inquiry</a> has been set up to investigate the circumstances around the fire. The devastation and death caused exposed festering problems of neglect and mismanagement by Kensington and Chelsea Council. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/06/more-than-200-grenfell-children-still-in-bbs-five-months-on-mps-told">Hundreds of residents and survivors</a> are still homeless more than five months on. Early November <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/statement-on-the-grenfell-recovery-taskforce-report">central government published a report which criticises</a> council leaders for their lack of humanity. In a statement Sajid Javid, communities and local government secretary, said the council response to the fire was “sluggish and chaotic”. </p> <p>But the government’s criticism of rotten local politics came too late. Residents and survivors fear the inquiry will ignore deep rooted problems of housing and inequality in London. Problems that created the conditions for the fire.</p> <p>After all, residents tried to warn authorities years before the fire in June.</p> <p>The<strong> </strong>Grenfell Action Group formed in 2010 and repeatedly raised safety concerns about the tower block. They published countless blogs outlining mismanagement and neglect at Grenfell tower and other housing estates in Kensington.&nbsp;They campaigned for <a href="https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/west-london-citizens-and-kctmo/">decent housing</a> and challenged the rise of <a href="https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/protest-against-mipim-in-london-homes-for-people-not-for-profit/">luxury housing developments</a> and&nbsp;<a href="https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/feilding-mellen-rbkcs-social-cleansing-hitman/">managed decline of social homes</a>. Their blog <a href="https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/guinness-occupation-blockade/">supported struggles</a> against changes that would make London unlivable for all but the rich.&nbsp;</p> <p>Their work is not unusual – across London radical housing groups fight for the rights of tenants in a hostile housing market. Social housing is scarce. Councils are broke and ill-equipped (and sometimes unwilling) to support people moving in and out of poverty, families with complex needs. Average private rents are high.</p> <p>After the Grenfell tower fire, what will change?</p> <p>Plenty, if London’s grassroots housing activists have their way.</p> <p>We spoke to Izzy Koksal from <a href="https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com">Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth</a> (HASL), a community group from south London, about their work challenging housing injustice. They are one of many radical groups working on housing inequality, racism, poverty, sex worker rights and migrant rights in London. Embedded in local communities, they are a mix of seasoned activists, precarious workers, and families moving in and out of poverty.</p> <p>HASL is part of the <a href="http://www.lcap.org.uk/?page_id=4">London Coalition Against Poverty</a>, known as LCAP, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The coalition is made up of local housing support and action groups from across the London boroughs.</p> <p>Since 2013, HASL has organised around and blogged about the daily housing injustices they encounter at the hands of local councils and private landlords.</p> <p>Below is an edited version of our written Q&amp;A with Izzy, published in three parts, where she tells us about the group’s work, challenges they face and offers advice for readers interested in setting up their own housing solidarity groups.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><strong>Q&amp;A below, our questions and subheads in bold, with Izzy’s&nbsp;answers immediately following.</strong></em></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/haslmeeting_resized.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/haslmeeting_resized.jpg" alt="Crowd of smiling people in a room" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth is a local community group. Image taken by group, used with permission. </span></span></span></p><h2>What is Housing Action Southwark And Lambeth? Who is Involved?</h2> <p>Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth is a local community group made up of people facing housing problems. We meet twice a month to support each other, organize action around our personal housing issues, and campaign for housing rights.</p> <p>Most of our members are working class women of colour, migrant women, and their children. We have lots of children at our meetings. We’re thinking of different ways to involve them in what we do. We want to create something like the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2017/jan/06/radical-brownies-berets-badges-and-social-justice-video">Radical Monarchs</a>, an alternative Brownies in California. This summer we trialled our first homework club.</p> <p>We also have supporters without immediate housing problems, but who are concerned about housing inequality, poverty and gentrification. In London, everyone is very aware that they could face serious housing problems at any moment.</p> <p><strong>Taking on dodgy landlords and council bullies&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Common housing problems members face include overcrowding, pending homelessness, difficulty accessing housing help from the council, being housed in unsuitable temporary accommodation. Families can be stuck for years in cramped, expensive temporary accommodation while waiting for council housing.</p> <p>Then there are dodgy landlords. Recently, one landlord tried to steal a member’s deposit. Another landlord harassed a female member and threatened to throw away her belongings.</p> <p>To combat some of this, we accompany each other to homelessness assessments. This is where a housing officer investigates your case to see if the council owes you a homeless duty. If you are a single homeless person, council officers decide whether you are vulnerable enough to receive help with your housing. Our members have experienced bullying and gatekeeping during these sessions (Gatekeeping is when the council prevents people accessing services they’re entitled to).</p><p>Attending assessments with support makes the whole process slightly less terrifying. It means we can politely challenge gatekeeping and make a record of what’s happened.</p><p>There’s other work too. We help each other fill out forms and source good housing lawyers. We give each other moral support, understanding and anger. Other times, we occupy the town hall. For example, when one of our members was housed in unsuitable temporary accommodation and her children forced to take three buses to school, we marched to the town hall. We demanded the family be given a home close to school. After 30 minutes of us being there, suitable temporary accommodation was found.</p><p>HASL is over four years old now, a huge achievement for a group organised voluntarily by people dealing with homelessness, insecure housing, medical issues, childcare commitments, paid work and other stresses. On top of that, some members now have to worry about Brexit. “Will they throw us out?” a member asked at a recent meeting.</p> <h2>Why was Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth set up?</h2><p>Where you have people suffering, living in poverty, unable to access secure homes or discriminated against because of their race, class or migration status, housing groups are vital.</p> <p>Getting help when you are homelessness is made so difficult by local councils. Accessing basic housing help is impossible to do alone. There are even greater barriers when you don’t have English as a first language, which is the case for many of our members.</p> <p>Gatekeeping when you face homelessness isn’t a problem unique to Lambeth and Southwark. All over London, people going through hard times struggle to access the most basic housing rights. Grenfell tower residents are experiencing that same struggle now.</p> <p>We had hoped that Kensington &amp; Chelsea council would make the re-housing process as swift and sympathetic as possible for Grenfell residents. Yet news reports suggest they are still struggling to get the right housing support.</p> <p>The re-housing problems faced by Grenfell residents echo what our members experience.<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Things like the confusion and mixed messages from the council about whether people will be housed in temporary accommodation in the borough.<strong> </strong>Arrogance from individual councillors. Councils collectively failing to listen to what people need.&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/olivemorrisphoto.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/olivemorrisphoto.jpg" alt="People outside building in south London with posters and placards. Largest poster reads "A home close to school"" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>HASL protest against tenants being housed miles from their children's schools. Image by HASL, used with permission. </span></span></span></p><p><strong>When the law falls short </strong></p> <p>While having access to good housing lawyers is important (if you qualify for legal aid), the legal process can be slow, stressful and limited. We organise collectively to complement legal action. One HASL member was congratulated by her lawyer for winning her case with the council. He admitted that his own role had been minimal!</p> <p>This particular member was a survivor of domestic violence who had endured 30 years of abuse, yet Southwark council initially decided she was not vulnerable enough to qualify for help. She will soon be moving into her new council flat, having navigated the homelessness process with HASL support. She would have given up without our help, she says. In turn, she has since supported some friends in a domestic violence refuge to access their homelessness rights. The collective support, understanding and determination we have for each other is special and inspiring.</p> <p class="p1">&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Next: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/izzy-koksal-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-landlords-and-council-bulli">how HASL forced the council to listen...</a></strong></h2><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/izzy-koksal-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-landlords-and-council-bulli">How housing activists are challenging town hall decisions</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/izzy-koksal/how-to-start-your-own-housing-rights-movement">How to start a housing movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/rats-in-lunchbox-mould-in-mattress-living-in-squalor-in-london">Rats in the lunchbox, mould in the mattress: living in squalor in London</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight London Equality Grenfell housing Grenfell Austerity Grenfell Tower Fire Izzy Koksal Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:00:12 +0000 Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi and Izzy Koksal 114799 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How housing activists are challenging town hall decisions https://www.opendemocracy.net/izzy-koksal-rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-landlords-and-council-bulli <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Using direct action, housing activists challenge unfeeling and harsh local authority decisionmaking&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <h2><span style="font-weight: bold;">Part 2 of our Q&amp;A with&nbsp;<a href="https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com/">Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth</a>, a community group challenging housing injustice in south London. Read part one introducing the group&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi-izzy-koksa/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-land">here</a>.&nbsp;</span></h2><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/nodemolition.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/nodemolition.jpg" alt="lead Wooden gate with pink sticker. Sticker reads "We do not want demolition"" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Across London communities are challenging the demolition of quality social housing. Image by Wasi Daniju. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p><span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;"><strong><em>Our questions and subheads are in bold, with Izzy’s&nbsp;answers immediately following.</em></strong></span></p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><h2><span style="font-size: 17px;">For years the Grenfell Action Group fought for basic housing rights and raised safety issues. They warned that people would die if they were ignored. </span></h2><h2><span style="font-size: 17px;">Yet the council and landlords did nothing. In your experience is this common? </span></h2><h2><span style="font-size: 17px;">Do councils ignore people when they ask for safe and secure housing?&nbsp;</span></h2><p>People are ignored by the council when it’s obvious they’re vulnerable. They are asking for help for a reason, but the council seem to operate a policy of disbelief.&nbsp;</p><p>For the last year, we’ve been supporting four HASL families who live in statutorily overcrowded housing in the private rented sector Southwark.&nbsp;Their living conditions are appalling and inhumane. The last Labour government <a href="http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN01013"><strong>said</strong></a><strong> </strong>statutory overcrowding was<strong> </strong>‘no longer defensible in modern society’. It happens everyday.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/southwarkcouncilmeeting.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/southwarkcouncilmeeting.jpg" alt="People of all ages including babies huddled together. They hold a large banner: no more overcrowding." title="" width="460" height="235" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>HASL members of all ages protest a council meeting. Image by HASL, used with permission. </span></span></span></p><p>Southwark council tells people they’ve caused&nbsp;overcrowding&nbsp;themselves, that it is&nbsp;a ‘deliberate act’ to live in overcrowded housing. That they should have&nbsp;found something better, tried&nbsp;<a href="http://zoopla.com/">zoopla.com</a>. And they even ask why the families choose to live in Southwark. These are families who left Spain because they were homeless and couldn’t find work. </p><p>Last December <a href="https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/hasl-families-demand-southwark-take-action-on-overcrowding/">we went to a Southwark Council cabinet</a> meeting. One of our members stood up and said: “I ask you to please help us with our housing. My children especially are suffering at school. Their headmaster is willing to help us and said they are severely underperforming due to the stress of the living situation.”</p><p>Another member said: “I have been trying to apply for a long time and my applications have frequently been closed. I am asking you to help me because we are living in a very small space.”</p><p>We held up a drawing of her overcrowded house for the councillors to see. “This is a folding table,” she said pointing at the drawing. “This where we have dinner and we have two beds. And a cot and now she is walking so it is getting more difficult. Thank you very much for listening, I ask for your help.”</p><p>One of our younger members made a <a href="https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/southwark-council-we-need-action-on-overcrowding-not-blame/">video</a> about her living situation. Filming after school one day she said: “We need help because we have a small room and there is 16 people here. There’s six rooms. It is complicated when it is time to eat and go to the bathroom.”</p><p>Another young member, Juan, filmed his home. In the film Juan shows us his bedroom which he shares with his two brothers. His bed is a blanket on the floor. “Let me show you where I do my homework,” he says. “Where we eat, where my brothers do their homework and they always stress me because they don’t let me concentrate to do my exams.”</p><p>The council continued to ignore us. We started a <a href="https://www.change.org/p/stephanie-cryan-southwark-gov-uk-immediate-action-for-families-living-in-inhumane-overcrowded-housing">petition</a> addressed to the councillor with responsibility for housing.<iframe gesture="media" frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/iYHoRehSolc?autohide=1&amp;showinfo=0&amp;rel=0" height="259" width="460"></iframe></p> <p>At Grenfell people raised concerns and were ignored. We’re afraid of what will happen if we’re ignored too. Overcrowded housing is unsafe housing. Victim blaming is not an acceptable response.</p><p>We’ve had similar problems with Lambeth council too.&nbsp;One of <a href="https://housingactionsouthwarkandlambeth.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/unlawful-and-aggressive-gatekeeping-at-lambeth-justice-for-ml/">our members</a> lived with her family in one room. It was tiny. She shared it with her husband and their two daughters. They shared kitchen and bathroom facilities with other families, who lived in the other bedrooms of the small house. In total there were 12 people living in three rooms.</p> <p>The council refused to help.</p> <p>Months after this member first went to the council, she was physically assaulted by someone from another household sharing the accommodation.</p><p>After the assault, our member went to the housing office again to make a homeless application. The council said she would need to report the assault to the police before they could open a homeless assessment. Because she had a buddy with her, they managed to fight this gatekeeping and get a homeless assessment and temporary housing for the family. But the temporary housing was out of borough meaning long journeys to school for the children.</p><p>Together we fought the council’s position and demanded suitable accommodation: we conducted a Twitter campaign, we held a large protest, we made official complaints. The council refused to engage with us directly, but after a protest outside the housing office, our member was given higher priority on the council housing waiting list.</p><h2>What has the council response been to HASL directly intervening in cases? </h2> <p>The councils’ responses are mixed. But one thing is for sure, both Lambeth and Southwark councils have failed to engage meaningfully and respectfully with us.</p> <p>They have failed to address the housing issues and abuses we’ve highlighted. They were not interested in supporting some of their most vulnerable residents. Reading through a recent council letter sent to a number of members, councillors seem horrified and resentful that poor migrant families could even consider making Southwark their home.</p> <p>Most London private renters struggle to find suitable housing. This is more complicated if you have children, claim benefits and don’t have English as a first language. Five families were living in statutorily overcrowded housing because they struggled to find suitable homes. They were locked out of the private rental market because of discrimination and racism. Yet Southwark council deemed them living in overcrowded housing a ‘deliberate act’. This is a quote from the council’s letter:</p> <blockquote><p>“...having conducted several searches on the external property website <a href="http://www.zoopla.com/">www.zoopla.com</a> we found several properties within southeast London which fell within the local housing allowance rental level.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“I am satisfied that the overcrowded circumstances your household is currently residing within has been caused through a deliberate act ... I have not found any grounds to conclude it is a necessity for your household to reside in the borough to maintain employment.”</p></blockquote> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sardinesillustration.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/sardinesillustration.jpg" alt="Illustration of group of people packed into a sardine can. " title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Image by Queen Mob Collective. </span></span></span></p> <p>Last year we were invited to a meeting with Southwark housing officers to discuss the problems we face. In advance of the meeting we gave the housing officers details of the cases we wanted them to investigate. But when we arrived they hadn’t even looked at the cases. Their response to our questions was, “Yeah, we'll look into it.” They refused to commit to anything there and then. For us, the meeting was a waste of time. Someone noticed that the manager had kept looking at his watch throughout the meeting.</p> <p>That’s not to say we haven’t had any success. When the council refused to house a woman and her children fleeing domestic violence we campaigned against the decision. Within 24 hours <a href="http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2016/05/05/disbelieved-how-domestic-violence-victims-face-homelessness">the council changed its mind</a> and housed the family.</p> <p>Recently, we met another woman made homeless after fleeing domestic violence a year ago. Last October she had approached Southwark housing office, but they stalled in helping her.&nbsp; They should have started a homeless assessment, but failed to do so. She was homeless, forced to sleep on a friend’s sofa.</p> <p>Earlier this year, she went back to the council this year with a buddy. Still no homeless assessment. This is something she was legally entitled to. During that visit, the woman and her buddy got a copy of the council’s refusal. It was a handwritten note.&nbsp;We shared the note on <a href="https://twitter.com/HousingActionSL/status/913740390095826944">Twitter</a>. Soon after that the council got in touch and a homeless assessment was arranged.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">&nbsp;</span><span style="font-weight: bold;"><strong><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/hasltweet copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/562682/hasltweet copy.jpg" alt="Screenshot of @HousingActionSL tweet of an image of a handwritten note." title="" width="240" height="201" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Direct action, case by case</strong><br /></span></p> <p>Other times our influence is indirect. Before HASL and in our early days, we heard reports of Southwark council turning away homeless families without legal help. People said the atmosphere in the housing office was one of bullying and intimidation. People would turn up to our meetings saying they had tried to make a homeless application but had been turned away with nothing.&nbsp;<span style="color: #222222; font-family: Calibri, sans-serif; font-size: 12pt;">&nbsp;</span></p><p>One family came to our meeting and said they had visited the housing office eight times and each time they had been turned away without any help.</p> <p>A few years ago, we met a father and his toddler leaving the housing office having been turned away with no housing assistance. “You guys were my saviour that day,” he told us later.&nbsp;</p> <p>He explains what happened:</p> <blockquote><p>“I was sent there to a caseworker, judging me, this man judging me straight saying, ‘no, you can’t have a house, you have to go and look for private accommodation’. And they said I made myself intentionally homeless without investigating my case and they threw me out.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“I came out and I met you guys … you accompanied me and then there was a commotion there [at the housing office] … From there on they had to change. The manager came and then the decision was reversed. I was given another appointment. I came back and it was a bit [easier] for me. Because of the intervention? I don’t know. And from there, we are alright.”</p></blockquote> <p>We blogged about what was happening. We helped people get council appointments. We leafleted outside the housing office so people knew their rights. It was a way to show solidarity for people going into appointments.</p> <p>The council could not ignore us. They began to deal with the gatekeeping. People at HASL meetings stopped saying they couldn’t get homeless appointments. Some of our members were able to secure homeless applications themselves. Others remarked that the atmosphere inside the housing office had improved considerably.</p> <p>However, there is still work to do. For over a year the council has ignored <a href="https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/3252-a-deliberate-act-southwark-council-blames-victims-of-housing-crisis">a number of HASL families</a> who are statutorily overcrowded.</p><h2>Next: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/izzy-koksal/how-to-start-your-own-housing-rights-movement">how to start your own housing movement...</a></h2><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi-izzy-koksa/housing-activists-stand-up-to-dodgy-land">Housing activists stand up to dodgy landlords and council bullies</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/izzy-koksal/how-to-start-your-own-housing-rights-movement">How to start a housing movement</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/residents-challenge-Lambeth-plans-to-demolish-homes">Residents challenge council plans to demolish their homes</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-city"> <div class="field-label">City:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> London </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight London Grenfell housing Grenfell Tower Fire Izzy Koksal Wed, 22 Nov 2017 12:00:00 +0000 Izzy Koksal 114814 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Two dead boys, UK state secrecy and the long fight for transparency on restraint https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/two-dead-boys-uk-state-secrecy-death-by-restraint <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An official manual governs the use of restraint on children in custody. It was published with 182 redactions. Carolyne Willow campaigns for transparency. This week the Court of Appeal hears her case.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/boy4.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="image of boy by @ReeceWykes"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/boy4.jpg" alt="" title="image of boy by @ReeceWykes" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p>Thirteen years ago two boys died after being restrained by staff in English prisons run by G4S and Serco. Both boys had been in care and lived in children’s homes.</p> <p>The restraint techniques approved for use in child prisons aren’t open to full public scrutiny. I’ve spent five years challenging that. This week the Court of Appeal will hear my case. </p> <h2><strong>Why does this matter?</strong></h2><p>Fifteen year-old Gareth Myatt died of positional asphyxia after three G4S custody officers forcibly held him down in a seated position and bent his upper body towards his thighs and knees. They ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe. He had been admitted to Rainsbrook secure training centre near Rugby on a Friday and was dead the following Monday. At the inquest into Gareth’s death, a document was produced showing the nicknames of G4S restraint trainers. They included Clubber, Mauler, Crusher and Breaker.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETHMYATT400.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gareth Myatt"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETHMYATT400.jpg" alt="" title="Gareth Myatt" width="396" height="278" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span></p><p>Fourteen year-old Adam Rickwood took his own life after he was unlawfully restrained for refusing to go to his cell. Adam was inflicted with the ‘nose distraction’, a restraint technique that involves a severe blow to the nose. He left behind a note saying he had asked officers what gave them the right to hit a child on the nose. Several years later, a judge declared there was no right to hit a child in these circumstances.</p> <p>The deaths of these two very vulnerable boys in 2004 shone a light on the terrible treatment of child prisoners. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (which I then ran) asked the government to scrutinise the restraint records of G4S and Serco to identify and then inform individuals who may have been unlawfully restrained as children. The government refused.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-large'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D*ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_large/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D*ADAMRICKWOOD.jpg" alt="" title="" width="400" height="225" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-large imagecache imagecache-article_large" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span></p> <p>We pursued a judicial review<strong> </strong>and lost our claim that ministers were duty-bound to undertake this remedial action. However, neither the government nor the prison companies challenged the evidence of widespread unlawful restraint starting from when the secure training centres first opened, in the late 1990s. In a damning judgment, which revealed for the first time the extent of abusive regimes, Foskett J concluded:</p> <p>“I do not think that there is any true or realistic alternative to the conclusion (a) that probably up until July 2008 (and possibly, though unlikely, for another two years thereafter) there was widespread unlawful use of restraint within the STC [secure training centre] system and many children and young persons were subjected to such restraint and (b) that <strong>very few, if any, of those who were subject to such unlawful restraint appreciated at the time that it was unlawful</strong> [91].” [Emphasis added].&nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Fight for transparency, 2007-2010</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>As well as that legal battle for justice for children unlawfully restrained, we pressed for disclosure of the manual showing the restraint techniques used by G4S and Serco officers. We argued transparency was essential for child protection and this would help right the wrongs of the past. The evidence was on our side. </p><p>Of particular importance were the recommendations of an independent review of restraint established by ministers after the inquests into the deaths of Gareth and Adam. Among the review’s 58 recommendations was this one:</p><p>“<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130321054602/https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/Review%20of%20restraint.pdf">Establishments should inform children and their parents or carers, of their restraint policy, <strong>methods used</strong> and safeguards in place</a>.” &nbsp;[Emphasis added].</p> <p>The government accepted this call for transparency. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="illustration: boy menaced by large men"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*bigman_1.jpg" alt="" title="illustration: boy menaced by large men" width="460" height="491" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p>Our freedom of information request was made to the Youth Justice Board. It refused disclosure on the grounds that children would develop countermeasures and adult prisoners would use the information to usurp prison officer control. We were told political prisoners and animal rights extremists might make use of the manual.</p><p> The Information Commissioner supported the Children’s Rights Alliance for England’s arguments for disclosure and ordered the Youth Justice Board to release the manual minus the redactions. The Youth Justice Board challenged this decision and the case was due to be heard at a tribunal. Days before the scheduled hearing, the Youth Justice Board contacted us to say it would hand over the full manual.</p><p>That was in July 2010, and a revised manual was subsequently published without any redactions on the Ministry of Justice’s website and placed in the House of Commons Library. We had received a hard copy of the manual before general publication, reviewed it with our lawyer and submitted our intent to legally challenge those aspects that we considered to be unlawful. In response, the Ministry of Justice amended the manual before making it widely available. </p> <h2><strong>Secrecy reinstated</strong></h2><p>Fast forward to July 2012, and the Ministry of Justice’s publication of a new manual of restraint techniques to be used in secure training centres and young offender institutions. Only the manual wasn’t published in full – <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715101921/http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/youth-justice/custody/mmpr/mmpr-vol5-physical-restraint.pdf">it contains 182 redactions</a>. The then Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke told the Commons:</p> <p>“<a href="https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2012-07-10/debates/12071076000019/SecureTrainingCentresAndYoungOffenderInstitutions(PhysicalRestraint)#contribution-12071076000080">The new system is a major step forward in improving the way young people are safeguarded in the under-18 secure estate. A comprehensive programme of work has resulted in a new system of restraint that has been <strong>specifically designed for use on young people in custody</strong></a>.” [Emphasis added].</p><p> The new system is called Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR). It was developed in response to the independent restraint review. Given the desperately high level of need among child prisoners – <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585991/key-characteristics-of-admissions-april-2014-to-march-2016.pdf">one-third of children arrive into custody from the care system</a> – devising a new system of techniques and approaches to minimise restraint was always going to be a demanding task. But the restraint techniques weren’t formulated by experts in childhood trauma, disability and child mental health. The National Training Response Group – the “elite” squad which deals with prison disturbance and riots – was commissioned to develop the MMPR system. The officers and the equipment they use are shown here in a video published by The Sun newspaper in October 2017 under the headline&nbsp;<a href="https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4640881/national-tactical-response-group-prison-riot-ntrg/">“Screw Dares Wins”</a>:</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XttSkGIsp54?rel=0" height="360" width="640"></iframe></p><p>An advisory group chaired by leading child psychiatrist Sue Bailey was asked to review the techniques: <a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">it reported that “the sole or primary purpose is the inducing of pain</a><a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">”</a><a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">&nbsp;in&nbsp;</a><a style="text-decoration: underline;" href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">one-third of them</a>.&nbsp;A substantial number of organisations and bodies — including the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners — have urged the UK to stop allowing prison officers to deliberately inflict pain on children during restraint.</p> <p>Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons undertook a review of the new system, <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2015/11/Behaviour-management-and-restraint-Web-2015.pdf">publishing its findings in November 2015</a>. The then Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, explains in the report’s foreword the genesis of MMPR:</p> <p>“The introduction of MMPR was the culmination of a long process initiated following the deaths of two boys in 2004. Gareth Myatt died after he became unconscious during a restraint in an STC. ‘If you can talk, you can breathe’, an officer told him when he complained. It was not true. Adam Rickwood, aged 14, hung himself after a ‘pain compliance’ technique was applied to him. This was the ‘nose distraction technique’, a painful jab under the base of the nose.”</p><p>A successful legal challenge to a rule change on restraint was part of the “long process” the Chief Inspector of Prisons was no doubt referring to. It was during these proceedings that <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2008/882.html">Buxton LJ observed</a>:&nbsp;</p><p>“We were told that the hold used on Gareth Myatt was no longer approved; and that the nose distraction technique used on Adam Rickwood had also been withdrawn. I will be forgiven for wondering whether there are any other techniques awaiting withdrawal only when something goes wrong&nbsp;[73].”</p> <h2>Fight for transparency, 2012-</h2><p> On seeing the new manual had 182 redactions, I asked around to see if others might be pursuing disclosure. On finding there were no such plans, I made an FOI request myself. I had by now left the Children’s Rights Alliance for England and was preparing to write a book about the mistreatment of child prisoners.</p> <p>The Information Commissioner this time supported the Ministry of Justice’s arguments against disclosure. Even though these are virtually identical to the claims made by the Youth Justice Board a decade ago (the line about political prisoners and animal rights extremists has been dropped). </p> <p class="mag-quote-left">The Ministry of Justice offered no concrete evidence in support of its claim that disclosure would compromise security.</p><p>The Ministry of Justice offered no concrete evidence in support of its claim that disclosure would compromise security and endanger the health of children, staff and visitors. </p><p>It gave data on the frequency of restraint and asserted children in young offender institutions are larger and more prone to violence than in secure training centres (official statistics show restraint, assault and self-harm are more prevalent among younger children in custody). </p><p>It told the Information Commissioner that security had been compromised “due to prisoners already copying techniques learned from experience” though didn’t explain how removing the 182 redactions would make any difference to this.</p><p>The Ministry of Justice submitted no analysis of the impact of the full disclosure of restraint techniques used in G4S and Serco-run secure training centres. These had been in the public domain for a little under two years when I made my FOI request. <a href="https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2009/504630/FS_50173181.pdf">Since the Youth Justice Board had years before argued the disclosure of that manual would jeopardise prison security and even endanger the health and safety of members of the public</a>, I had assumed the Ministry of Justice would be pressed to provide evidence of, or at least be made to reflect upon, the <em>actual</em> impact of transparency. This hasn’t happened.</p><p> The Ministry of Justice has consistently argued that the restraint techniques in the new manual are designed for children aged 12 to 17, and stresses the one released in 2010 was originally aimed at 12 to 14 year-olds. This is disingenuous: by the time the ‘old’ manual was published it had been revised a number of times and children older than 14 had been detained in secure training centres for many years (Gareth Myatt was aged 15). Moreover, a key part of the Ministry of Justice’s argument is that the new manual contains techniques that are the same or similar to those used in adult prisons. The first-tier tribunal found this to be “decisive” in its decision to maintain non-disclosure. </p> <p>Let’s recall the Secretary of State’s description of the new manual as being designed “specifically” for children. The redacted manual of techniques notes itself (page 9):</p> <p>“<a href="http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140715100703/https://www.justice.gov.uk/youth-justice/custody/behaviour-management/minimising-and-managing-physical-restraint">The techniques contained within Volume 5 – Physical Restraint, have been designed for use on young people whose ages range from 12 – 17</a>.”</p> <p>Other FOI requests I have made subsequently, on behalf of Article 39 children’s rights charity, have revealed that the MMPR techniques have also been authorised for use on children restrained on aircraft during deportation. These are likely to be very young children. Escort officers taking children to/from secure children’s homes have also been trained to use the techniques: children in these circumstances can be as young as 10.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kidsangry.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/*kidsangry.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="325" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p> One of the strands of my appeal is that the best interests of children were not treated as a primary consideration by the Information Commissioner and the two tribunals which supported non-disclosure. Why should child protection be weakened because a set of restraint techniques said to have been devised especially for children turns out to be the same or similar to those used in adult prisons? There is <a href="http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2011/4.html">relevant case law</a> emphasising that children should not suffer detriment for the shortcomings of adults.</p><p> I have offered considerable evidence that disclosure is vital for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of very vulnerable children and protecting their human rights. I submitted detailed expert evidence from the NSPCC’s Chief Advisor on Child Protection, the then Chair of the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers and the then Chair of the Secure Accommodation Network. </p> <p>This evidence meticulously describes the extensive safeguards that have evolved over the past three decades to protect children in institutional settings. These safeguards depend upon openness and transparency. For example, after the death of Gareth Myatt the coroner conducting his inquest wrote to the then Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, urging that children’s own perspective on restraint be sought after each incident. This is in line with practice in social care and health settings. </p><p>The coroner’s recommendation led to the Youth Justice Board requiring prisons to conduct ‘debriefs’ with children, and it latterly extended the scope of independent advocates so they are proactively available to assist children post-restraint. While the redactions remain in place, advocates cannot answer the most basic question often asked by children: “Are they allowed to do that?”.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">Restraint often heightens children’s anger, fear and frustration. They become more out of control.</p> <p class="p1">It is implausible that children will obtain, study, digest and be able to use the manual to thwart the use of physical restraint by a group of physically strong adults who are trained to apply techniques and who may well be wearing personal protective equipment. </p><p class="p1">I recall reading about the case of a child with learning disabilities restrained by prison officers for smashing up his cell furniture. The prison service review of this and five other incidents (where children suffered broken bones during restraint) notes the “back hammer” form of restraint was used (where a child’s wrists are ‘locked’ behind their back). This was found to be “inappropriate” and the review questioned whether sufficient effort had been made to de-escalate the situation. </p><p class="p1">Despite these concerns, officers were criticised for not wearing “Full Protective Equipment”. Such equipment includes a riot helmet, flame-retardant overalls, gloves, belt, side arm baton and holder, shin guards, elbow protectors, boots, flame-retardant balaclava and a shield cover.</p> <p>Assuming children had access to the full manual and have the interest, concentration and literacy levels to follow the detail — most have the reading age of a primary school child —how might they use it to subvert security? The use of force must be a last resort when alternative methods have failed. Children in these situations are invariably extremely distressed. Successive research into children’s experiences of restraint show that it often heightens their anger, fear and frustration. They become more out of control. These are not situations where children are acting calmly and rationally.</p><p> Another research finding is that children have clear, and frequently painful, memories of restraint. The experience of being restrained tells children about restraint.</p><p> It must be for adults in safeguarding roles — social workers, independent reviewing officers, advocates, complaints officers, monitors, inspectors for instance — to carefully consider the contents of the manual. Through this process, potential risks to individual children — I’m thinking here of those with medical conditions, disabled children, children who have been subject to physical and/or sexual violence in the past and pregnant girls — can be identified. When children make complaints about restraint (after the BBC Panorama exposé of serious alleged abuse in the G4S-run Medway secure training centre, the company disclosed 40 child protection allegations had been passed to the local authority during the previous year), the manual of techniques would be an essential reference document for investigators.</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fuckingdoorG4S.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="BBC Panorama &quot;Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed&quot; January 2016"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fuckingdoorG4S.jpg" alt="" title="BBC Panorama &quot;Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed&quot; January 2016" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BBC Panorama "Teenage Prison Abuse Exposed" January 2016</span></span></span><br /> Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons made 10 recommendations after it reviewed the MMPR system. It said children must not be strip-searched under restraint (they still are) and pain-inducing techniques must not be used on children (they still are). Its last recommendation concerns monitoring. Local safeguarding children boards and councils were told to “ensure that they have sufficient expertise to enable effective independent oversight of restraint”. Effective independent oversight requires full knowledge of the techniques which have been approved for use on children, otherwise those monitoring are doing so with at least one eye closed.</p> <p>I have never opposed the use of physical restraint in childcare settings or penal custody, when it is used lawfully and in a manner which seeks to uphold the child’s dignity and rights. I understand there will be rare, extreme incidents where the deliberate infliction of pain could be legally justified. But my FOI case is not about the training officers have been given to deal with grave scenarios. There is another, separate training programme and set of personal safety techniques for that. Officers are allowed to use these when it is impossible to apply MMPR techniques.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>In secure children’s homes and mental health units there is a legal and professional expectation of transparency in restraint methods and partnership working with children, parents and carers. Keeping children (and their parents and carers) in ignorance of restraint techniques unless and until they are used on them or other children is anathema to good childcare practice. Should my case succeed, I hope age-appropriate information about restraint methods will be routinely shared with children during and after they arrive in custody, as part of their individual plans for dealing with distress and conflict. Applying these professional norms to the most closed and hidden of institutions would be a great act of child protection. It would also demonstrate that the state continues to remember and learn from the appalling deaths of Gareth and Adam.</p> <p><em>Carolyne’s case will be heard by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday 1 November. She writes in a personal capacity.</em></p><p><em><em>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/uk-charity-seeks-funds-to-challenge-use-of-painful-restraints-on-childre">UK charity seeks funds to challenge use of painful restraints on children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-s-rights-and-uk-general-election-2017">Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/england-s-bonfire-of-children-s-rights">England’s bonfire of children’s rights</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/when-children-s-home-is-one-more-stop-on-road-to-prison">When a children’s home is one more stop on the road to prison </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Carolyne Willow Mon, 30 Oct 2017 00:07:59 +0000 Carolyne Willow 114331 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘Please get me moved from here!’ Pregnant woman in G4S asylum housing https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/pregnant-woman-g4s-asylum-housing <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Refugee and asylum seeking women are shockingly over-represented in the records of UK maternal deaths. Yet pregnant women and infants continue to be placed in dangerous housing.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RearwindowyardSharonshouse.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rear window of Sharon&#039;s G4S asylum home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RearwindowyardSharonshouse.JPG" alt="" title="Rear window of Sharon&#039;s G4S asylum home" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rear window of Sharon’s G4S asylum home (all images by John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>One showery September morning I stood outside a large red brick house, just off the town centre in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.</p> <p>I’d been told that the hostel was being used by the security company G4S as accommodation for pregnant women asylum seekers, and lone mothers with babies. One of the growing number of lone mother and refugee children hostels <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-shame-of-asylum-housing-of-child-refugees-in-the-uk/">in the UK’s asylum market</a>.</p> <p>Old carpets had been dumped in the hostel’s back yard, a blocked drain overflowed. It didn’t seem a safe place for children to play.</p> <h2>Leaky ceilings and filthy carpets</h2> <p>“Come and see, carpet is too dirty for my baby!” Rita shows me to her room, introduces me to her fourteen month old son. Friends had provided a play-mat to cover the filthy carpet.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BackyardSharonsHouseplay.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Back yard, Sharon’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BackyardSharonsHouseplay.JPG" alt="" title="Back yard, Sharon’s home" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Safe for toddlers? Back yard, Sharon’s home</span></span></span>Rita and her housemate Janet were showing me round the hostel. In the kitchen Janet said: “This kitchen is the only room we can meet and let the children play.” She showed me damp patches on the kitchen ceiling where water had leaked from the bathroom above.</p> <p>We looked in on the lounge. “We can’t use this room now, they put old beds in there,” Janet said. It was packed with beds and children’s buggies. “We have nowhere else to put them, the stairs are steep.”</p> <p>A local agency who work with women survivors of trafficking had asked me to take a look at the hostel. They’d protested to G4S on behalf of a client from West Africa, a heavily pregnant woman who had been placed in a room at the top of the house, up three flights of stairs.</p><p><span>An agency worker told me: “Sharon says the place is very dirty and that she is stranded at the top of the house. G4S are simply not doing anything about her.</span><span>” </span></p><p><span>I&nbsp;</span>climbed up the stairs to Sharon’s room. She was sitting on her bed. I apologised for visiting on my own. (Usually I visit all-women accommodation alongside a female colleague). “That’s OK, please get me moved from here, I have never unpacked,” Sharon said. “I must move. I am in constant pain, in both my knees. I cannot take painkillers, for the baby.”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/StaircarpetcloseupSharonshouse.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Dirty staircase, Rose’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/StaircarpetcloseupSharonshouse.JPG" alt="" title="Dirty staircase, Rose’s home" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Dirty staircase, Rose’s home</span></span></span>I recognised Sharon. She had been in a G4S house in Barnsley. I had been told that earlier in her pregnancy she had been in an attic room there and had fallen down the stairs. “They have said I will maybe have a C-section. I could not carry my baby up all those stairs. I stay in bed most of the time,” she said.</p> <p>The carpets along the corridors and the stair carpets were filthy. G4S display a management sheet in their houses to record all inspections, cleaning and work. The sheet showed the hostel communal areas had last been cleaned in early July, almost three months previously.</p> <p>An official resident list named twelve people, six of them apparently small children under three years. There was a baby of fifteen months and a toddler of two and a half. The record was incomplete: Sharon and some others were not listed.</p> <h2>Punished for complaining</h2> <p>The previous week I had been to see Rose, in another G4S house, in Sheffield. Rose, also from West Africa, is a survivor of trafficking. In this house too the corridor and stair carpets were dirty. The last recorded clean had been over three months ago. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Floorlevelkichencupboard_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Kitchen cupboard in Rose’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Floorlevelkichencupboard_0.JPG" alt="" title="Kitchen cupboard in Rose’s home" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Kitchen cupboard in Rose’s home </span></span></span></p><p>“I can’t walk in bare feet outside my room, the soles of my slippers are dirty.” Rose said. She showed me her own very clean room, and the women’s clean bathrooms. “There are seven women here, just one dirty kitchen, I have to store pans and food in my room,” she said.</p> <p>Two women joined us in the kitchen. Tina opened a floor cupboard, exposing mould and dirt. “I never come down here at night, not for months, there are cockroaches when you put the lights on.”</p> <p>On the notice-board a Pest Control notice, dated February 2017, mentioned cockroaches, but there was no evidence of visits in the eight months since then. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/PestControlnoticecockroaches.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Pest control notice in Rose’s home"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/PestControlnoticecockroaches.JPG" alt="" title="Pest control notice in Rose’s home" width="460" height="202" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Pest control notice in Rose’s home</span></span></span>On the same notice board was a threatening warning to the women, a controversial ‘<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">behave or get deported’</a> notice.&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course G4S doesn’t have powers to deport tenants. I’d exposed this particular abuse of power <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">here back in April 2017</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>G4S claimed then that they were withdrawing the notices from the properties they managed.</p> <p>Rose told me: “I was forced to move a month ago from a really clean, nice house in Rotherham. I had friends and help there. I complained to G4S because a woman in my house was aggressive and shouted at me. She was really mentally ill, but she reminded me of the woman who trafficked me here. I was very frightened. G4S did not give her a place on her own —&nbsp;they moved me instead.” Rose seemed depressed, and became tearful as I left.</p> <h2>33 weeks pregnant, moved away from medical help</h2> <p>In Barnsley, on the 29th of September, I visited Lucy. She was 33 weeks pregnant, but that day she’d been moved from Barnsley town, near the hospital, to a shared house six miles away in a former mining village, on the outer edge of the borough. Lucy told me she had appointments with her midwife in Barnsley, and at the hospital, over the next few days.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BEHAVE.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="G4S letter to tenants implying it has powers to deport"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BEHAVE.JPG" alt="" title="G4S letter to tenants implying it has powers to deport" width="240" height="352" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S implies it has powers to deport</span></span></span>“I cannot stay here, I could walk to the hospital when I was in Barnsley. The G4S driver said this place was six miles from Barnsley, he pleaded with the G4S welfare officer not to put me up here. I rang about a taxi to get to the hospital — he said it would cost £18 there and back.” </p> <p>On the 4th of October, Lucy asked me to post a letter from her midwife to G4S and the Home Office. The letter confirmed that Lucy was now 34 weeks pregnant and at high risk. It went on:</p> <p>“She is currently housed in accommodation in the attic 2 flights of very steep stairs. This is impacting greatly on her physical and mental wellbeing and will not be suitable for her baby when she delivers. She has also been moved away from this surgery which means a two bus journey for appointments.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">This is impacting greatly on her physical and mental wellbeing.</p> <p>Lucy told me: “Take my picture walking up these stairs, there are three flights of stairs.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Three weeks on, and 36 weeks pregnant Lucy is still waiting for a move.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Lucyalmostatherroom.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Lucy at top of double flight of stairs"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Lucyalmostatherroom.JPG" alt="" title="Lucy at top of double flight of stairs" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Midwife: “This is impacting greatly on her physical and mental wellbeing.” </span></span></span></p> <h2>Children’s early years, blighted</h2> <p>G4S, the largest security company in the world, won a slice of the £1.7 billion UK Home Office COMPASS (Commercial and Operating Managers Procuring Asylum Support) contract in June 2012 with two other security companies, Serco and Reliance. None of them had experience of housing. In the first months of the contract an Ethiopian woman whose <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-asylum-housing-evictions-begin-mother-and-baby-dumped-in-substandard-fl">twelve week old baby had a heart defect</a>, was transported from Bradford, forty miles away, to a tiny flat in Doncaster with no cooker, table or chair, and only a tiny sink to wash dishes and clothes. </p> <p>In November 2012, Angela, from West Africa, a survivor of trafficking, was transferred with her five month old baby son from her Leeds council flat to a slum property — by Cascade Housing, then a G4S subcontractor. The back yard was piled with rubbish. The place was infested with cockroaches and slugs. She did not dare put her baby on the floor. Angela <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby-s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">found a cockroach in her baby’s bottle</a>.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Refugee and asylum seeking women make up 12% of maternal deaths, and 0.3% of the UK population.</p><p>In 2013 in evidence to a Children’s Society parliamentary investigation Dr Jenny Phillimore of Birmingham University pointed to “<a href="https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/Policy/asylum-inquiry/dr_jenny_phillimore.pdf">growing evidence of high maternal and infant mortality rates amongst asylum seekers and in asylum seeker dispersal areas</a> …Refugee and asylum seeking women make up 12% of all maternal deaths, and 0.3% of the population in the UK. The perinatal mortality rates in the City Hospital Trust area of Birmingham which at the time of data collection contained the highest concentration of asylum seeker housing in the city, is 12 per 1000 and rising compared with a national average of 7.6.” Dr Phillimore told the inquiry. “The City Hospital area of Birmingham has <a href="https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/tcs/Policy/asylum-inquiry/asylum_support_for_children_and_young_people_-_session_1.pdf">the highest infant mortality rate in Europe</a>, not just in the UK.”</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bedsbuggiesSharonslounge.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Lounge packed with beds and buggies"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/bedsbuggiesSharonslounge.JPG" alt="" title="Lounge packed with beds and buggies" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Communal lounge in Sharon’s home</span></span></span></p><p>In 2013 the Refugee Council and the Maternity Alliance issued their report “<a href="https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0002/6402/When_Maternity_Doesn_t_Matter_-_Ref_Council__Maternity_Action_report_Feb2013.pdf">When Maternity Doesn’t Matter</a>: dispersing pregnant women seeking asylum”, based on interviews with twenty women. The researchers found:</p> <p>“Accommodation for pregnant women or those who had recently given birth was often inappropriate. There was rudimentary equipment for the baby but little effort was made to ensure adequate hygiene and sanitary facilities for new-borns. <a href="https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/assets/0002/6402/When_Maternity_Doesn_t_Matter_-_Ref_Council__Maternity_Action_report_Feb2013.pdf">Women often had to climb several flights of stairs to their rooms.</a>” </p> <p>In 2016, in Glasgow, in Serco’s COMPASS contract area, Red Cross researchers spoke to pregnant asylum seekers, and new mothers in their report <a href="http://www.redcross.org.uk/~/media/BritishRedCross/Documents/About%20us/A%20Healthy%20Start%20Report.pdf">“A Healthy Start?</a>”:</p> <p>“The state of carpets preoccupied several of the women with young babies who were about to crawl and spending quite a lot of time on the floor. Living in a dirty, cramped house meant that many of them were not feeling able to relax and feel at home. Several lived on upper floors, which caused difficulties when trying to carry a baby, a buggy and bags of shopping up several flights of stairs.”</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Accommodation for pregnant women or those who had recently given birth was often inappropriate.</p> <p>On 31 January 2017, the&nbsp; record of the private companies in asylum housing was laid bare in the latest UK Home Affairs Select Committee report on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmhaff/637/63702.htm">Asylum Accommodation,</a> which found “vulnerable people in unsafe accommodation … children living with infestations of mice, rats or bed bugs, lack of health care for pregnant women … inadequate support for victims of rape and torture.”</p> <h2>Making money from refugee babies and toddlers</h2> <p>I and my SYMAAG colleague Violet Dickenson and fellow campaigners have worked alongside brave whistleblower tenants over five years to expose conditions in the G4S <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/news/g4s-jomast-stockton-hostel-and-the-mother-and-baby-market/">mother and baby market</a> in asylum housing hostels. We exposed the G4S/Jomast Stockton hostel in 2012 where mothers described their rooms as “cells”, and a G4S Leeds hostel in 2015 in a grubby Victorian villa with&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/one-bath-for-12-women-and-11-babies-uk-asylum-housing-by-g4s">one bath for twelve women and eleven babies</a>.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/firetrap_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/firetrap_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In June this year support workers told me about a G4S/ Cascade <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">“fire trap hostel”</a> in Halifax with seventeen people, parents, a pregnant mother, new born babies and toddlers.</p> <p>G4S gets £8.42 per family member, per night, for these hostels (according to contract details revealed in a High Court judgement <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2017/200.html">here</a>). At that price, packing 17 people into the Halifax hostel brings the monthly take to around £4,300 of taxpayer’s money. The Doncaster hostel’s take would be around £3,000, every month. </p> <p>Jomast Accommodation Ltd., the G4S contractor in the North East of England, has extended the Stockton hostel, and developed similar hostels in Hartlepool and Newcastle. Smaller G4S hostels for lone mothers and babies have appeared in HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) in Doncaster, Derby, Barnsley and recently in Huddersfield.</p> <h2>The Hostile Environment</h2> <p>The UK Labour government by 2009 was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/inside-yarls-wood-britains-shame-over-child-detainees-1674380.html">locking up 2000 children a year in detention centres, around half of them in the Serco managed Yarl’s Wood centre, near Bedford.</a> In April 2009 after an inspection of Yarl’s Wood <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/inside-yarls-wood-britains-shame-over-child-detainees-1674380.html">the Independent reported</a> that the Children’s Commissioner for England “found that seriously ill children were denied hospital treatment.... ….Children suffering from serious medical conditions and the mentally ill were routinely kept in detention despite guidelines stating clearly they should not be. …. An eight-month-old baby with asthma was neither released nor given an inhaler.”</p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Underplaymat.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Under the play-mat"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Underplaymat.JPG" alt="" title="Under the play-mat" width="240" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Under the play-mat</span></span></span></p><p>In September 2009, Home Office Director of Criminality and Detention at the UK Border Agency and former Assistant Commissioner at the Met, <a href="https://uk.linkedin.com/in/dave-wood-6846056a">Dave Wood</a>, was called before the Home Affairs Committee. He described Yarl’s Wood as a “family friendly detention centre”. MPs asked him: “Why are children detained under the immigration system, because they have not done anything wrong, have they?” Wood explained that the lack of detention <a href="http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/c7436e4b-362a-45b4-a2c4-d0fe1086223c">“would act as a significant magnet and pull to families from abroad”.</a></p> <p>In May 2017, the government handed G4S <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/09/g4s-welfare-support-families-children-deportation-gatwick">a new contract to lock up families</a> at the Tinsley House detention centre at Gatwick airport. BBC TV Panorama in early September 2017 <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/g4s_brook_house_immigration_removal_centre_undercover">exposed the violence and mistreatment of people</a> detained in G4S’s other Gatwick centre, Brook House.</p> <p>G4S, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/11/g4s-guards-at-youth-prison-alleged-to-have-falsified-reports-to-avoid-fines">exposed for its abuse of children</a> in children’s prisons, like Medway in Kent, which it managed, decided to sell (yes it can sell!), these youth prison contracts together with its children’s homes. G4S Children’s services as a whole had annual revenues of £40m from government and local authority contracts. In June 2017, G4S <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/03/g4s-sells-controversial-childrens-homes-business/">sold eighteen of its children’s homes to the Prospect Group for over £11m</a>.</p> <p>In December 2016, the government handed G4S, Serco and Clearsprings a two year extension to their asylum housing contracts, stretching them to September 2019. In August 2017, the Home Office started to advertise for <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/08/05/government-launches-tendering-process-troublesome-asylum-seekers/">new contracts from 2019.</a> The contracts are worth £600m of public money. </p> <p>Consider the companies’ record. Consider the very notion of international security companies being handed control over housing for pregnant women, for refugee babies and children. For years now we’ve listened to asylum tenants. We’ve witnessed conditions that blight children’s lives. Campaigners are working hard to stop international security companies like G4S and Serco getting contracts to house refugee babies and children.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Note: For the refugee women’s protection, names have been changed in this article.</em></p><p><em>All images by John Grayson. Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><br /></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/gareth-mitchell/high-court-blasts-outrageous-assault-by-tascor-staff-on-tort">High Court blasts ‘outrageous’ assault by Tascor staff on torture survivor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/people-come-in-here-normal-but-they-get-ill-protesting-against-">‘People come in here normal, but they get ill.’ Protesting against deaths at a UK migrant jail</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/five-years-of-denial-uk-government-s-reckless-pursuit-of-punitive-asylum-">Five years of denial: the UK government’s reckless pursuit of a punitive asylum policy — never mind the evidence of harm</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Shine A Light John Grayson Fri, 20 Oct 2017 11:07:33 +0000 John Grayson 114149 at https://www.opendemocracy.net How lawyers fail migrants in the UK https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/mia-light/lawyers-fail-migrants-in-uk <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Access to justice has diminished almost to vanishing point, leaving asylum seekers and irregular migrants at risk of exploitation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="Standard"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Detail from a Biometric Residence Permit"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/1.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" alt="lead " title="Detail from a Biometric Residence Permit" width="460" height="254" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A lawyer is charging Suleiman £900 for an application that should be free for him as a refugee.</span></span></span></p><p class="Standard">I strain to understand what Amir* is saying; his English is broken and the phone signal in Brook House immigration removal centre is notoriously bad. “I have a ticket for Friday” he says. It’s Monday. I’m not sure what to say. “Do you have a lawyer?” I ask limply. I’m not optimistic.</p> <p class="Standard">Most likely, Amir does not have a lawyer. He might not know how to go about getting one. One in three people in detention do not know they are entitled to 30 minutes of free legal advice. It’s also possible that Amir’s case is not in the scope of Legal Aid since the <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/cuts-legal-aid-have-decimated-access-justice-thousands-most-vulnerable">cuts</a>. Best case scenario is that Amir is entitled to Legal Aid and does understand the Legal Aid <a href="http://www.asylumineurope.org/reports/country/united-kingdom/detention-asylum-seekers/procedural-safeguards/legal-assistance">‘surgery’</a> system in England’s immigration removal centres. But he will be told that he must wait for an appointment, as most people <a href="https://hubble-live-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/biduk/redactor2_assets/files/213/Legal_Advice_Survey_-_Spring_2017.pdf">have to wait over 1 week</a> and there is no official mechanism to prioritise people. The Home Office will have forcibly removed Amir before he has a chance to secure legal representation.</p> <p>Or maybe Amir does have a lawyer — one that he is paying for privately. He will be paying privately because, due to those practical and administrative barriers, he cannot get Legal Aid. Amir’s private lawyer might have come recommended by someone in his community. Amir might be very happy with his lawyer, because they’re not letting on how bad the situation is, merely feeding Amir with legal sounding lies. Amir might also be angry at his lawyer, for being unresponsive or incompetent. </p> <p>Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, founder of the Refugee Studies centre at Oxford University and the <a href="http://www.refugeelegalaidinformation.org/">Rights in Exile Program</a>, is all too familiar with these scenarios. </p> <p>She told me of a lawyer selling legal services to asylum seekers and others out of a house in Oxford, even though he’s been struck off. </p> <p class="Standard">Another practitioner, known to the <a href="http://www.unitycentreglasgow.org/">Unity Centre</a> where I volunteer, has for years offered women held at the notorious Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire free consultations and the option to pay after work done. Sounds attractive? Time and time again he has taken action that has jeapordised women’s cases irreversibly and then pursued them and their families for money. </p> <p class="Standard">Unity volunteers try to warn women against him but it’s difficult. Many women see him as their only hope.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/2.NEWbiometric_permit.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="223" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Standard">Angel, who lives in a city in the north of England, tells me she’s heard that her ‘lawyer’ has almost definitely left the country. She says he’s left with her money and her documents. All her documents. Her and her son’s identity cards, and the photographs and the original papers necessary to substantiate her claim.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Standard">I meet Suleiman, an elderly Eritrean man at a drop-in centre. Straightaway he tells me of his mental health issues. “I was in hospital a long time in my country,” he says. Suleiman proudly shows me his Biometric Residence Permit, that coveted pink and blue card that conveys his leave to remain as a refugee. It will expire he explains, this November, and he must pay £900 to renew it. I’m confused by this because I know applications to renew refugee status are free. They are one of the few applications still covered by legal aid and the application itself has no fee for refugees. </p><p class="Standard">I speak to the drop-in centre staff who confirm that they are aware of the situation. But Suleiman’s mind is made up. He wants to use this lawyer and believes it necessary to pay the £900. Such blatant malpractice, preying on the vulnerable, can only be complained about with the consent of Suleiman who does not give it. This lawyer will get his £900 and this lawyer remains untouchable. </p> <p class="Standard">I meet Tariq at a community meal, whilst doing outreach for Unity. He came to the UK aged 14 from Iran. He speaks with a Scottish accent and is small, still child-like in appearance. The Home Office refused Tariq’s asylum claim when he first came, but gave him leave to remain in the UK until he was 17 and a half years old. Now he is 19 and awaiting the Home Office to decide on a “fresh claim”. Tariq could be detained and forcibly removed from the UK at any time. </p> <p class="Standard">It is standard practice for the Home Office to give children who are refused asylum leave to remain in the UK which expires just before their 18th birthday, it is known as Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (or <a href="http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/resources/uasc-leave/">UASC</a>) leave. But being granted UASC leave does not mean your future in the UK is secured, and any competent lawyer would advise a client (child or otherwise) to appeal the refusal of an asylum claim if possible. </p> <p class="Standard">I listen to Tariq recount his story. He tells me that he speaks English now and gets what is going on, but in the beginning he didn’t understand anything. Not the English language, nor the UK’s legal processes. “My lawyer told me there was no need to appeal the Home Office’s refusal, because I got leave to remain,” he says. “I had no reason not to trust him, he said he would look after me.” There’s nothing I can say. “My social worker is my witness,” he says. “My lawyer said that, he told me not to appeal even though I could have done, but now he acts like he didn’t. My social worker didn’t know the law either. She listened to my lawyer and she trusted him too.” </p> <p class="Standard">With the appeal deadline now long passed, Tariq is what is called “appeal rights exhausted”. Tariq’s lawyer did not apply to extend his UASC leave and instead advised him to make further submissions to the Home Office (often referred to as a “fresh claim”). Tariq had to <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/forcing-penniless-asylum-seekers-to-travel-to-liverpool-is-hardly-good-customer-service-9998953.html">travel to Liverpool at his own expense</a> to submit this. Now all he can do is wait.</p> <p class="Standard">What makes matters worse is that it is apparent Tariq’s lawyer had prepared his fresh claim badly, it is weak when it could be strong. Tariq has been failed and there is no redress, as according to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission any complaint <a href="https://www.scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk/making-a-complaint/advice-and-information/time-limits.aspx">should be made within 1 year</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/5.NEWbiometric_permit copy.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/5.NEWbiometric_permit copy.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="326" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="Standard">Tariq’s lawyer is not what is known as a ‘back-street’ lawyer. He would not be considered a rogue practitioner, in fact he is the principal solicitor of a well-known high-street firm. His bad practice is testament to the deplorable quality of representation that those seeking asylum or with irregular immigration status may encounter.</p> <p>Why is this happening? </p> <p>I asked former barrister and vice-chair of the <a href="http://www.irr.org.uk/">Institute of Race Relations</a>, Frances Webber. She said: “Access to justice has diminished almost to vanishing point, making a mockery of our supposed adherence to values of fairness, justice and the rule of law.” She said: “People who don't have English as their first language are expected to navigate areas acknowledged to be of fiendish legal complexity on their own, without legal help.”</p> <p class="Standard">Cuts to Legal Aid implemented on 1 April 2013 have been <a href="https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/cuts-legal-aid-have-decimated-access-justice-thousands-most-vulnerable">devastating</a>. The pressure on lawyers has increased, with desperation often leading to shoddy practice. To stay above water, some firms take on too many clients. This means that there is not enough time to communicate with clients or explain things fully.</p> <p class="Standard">Alice, a solicitor in a busy Legal Aid immigration firm, tells me: “I have client appointments all day.”</p> <p class="Standard">I ask her: “If you see clients all day, when do you do the work that you’re promising in the appointments?”</p> <p class="Standard">“I stay late,” she says flatly. </p> <p class="Standard">“Does everyone stay late?” </p> <p class="Standard">Alice gives me a look.</p> <p class="Standard">Asylum seekers and other migrants may have multiple vulnerabilites. Denied the right to work, threatened with removal, maybe locked up or living in dangerous accommodation, struggling with language difficulties. People’s lives often depend on remaining in the UK. </p> <p class="Standard">They’re perfect prey for dodgy lawyers. </p> <p class="Standard">Making a complaint against a lawyer is a complicated and laborious process. One that requires a good grasp of the English language, time, energy and confidence. The bigger the mistake a lawyer makes, the worse a situation a person is likely to be in. Securing alternative legal representation and taking steps to regularise immigration status will be likely priorities, not engaging in the bureaucratic complaints process. Lawyers can therefore bet safely that those they wrong are not likely to seek redress. </p><p dir="ltr">Many Legal Aid firms continue to do right by their clients, including law centres across the UK who recognise the benefits of supplementing Legal Aid income with other funding. But securing funding is a job in itself. The odds are against the good guys. These<span>&nbsp;stories are those that I have encountered personally in the last few months. There must be countless others.</span></p> <p><em>* All clients’ names have been changed.</em><em> </em><em>If you are interested in assisting&nbsp;people&nbsp;to make complaints about immigration lawyers, please contact <a href="mailto:immigration.info2@gmail.com">immigration.info2@gmail.com</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p><em><span>Editing and images by Clare Sambrook for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a>.</span></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/lucy-alper/locked-up-pushed-out-shaida-s-welcome-to-britain">Locked up, pushed out. Shaida’s welcome to Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/usman-sheikh/money-talks-meet-three-people-who-want-to-live-in-uk">Money talks: Meet three people who want to live in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/lydia-noon/if-i-d-known-what-to-ask-for-i-wouldn-t-have-gone-hungry">‘If I’d known what to ask for, I wouldn’t have gone hungry’</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Mia Light Tue, 17 Oct 2017 07:15:04 +0000 Mia Light 114012 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On the lethal restraint of young black Londoner, Rashan Charles https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/clare-sambrook/police-restraint-of-rashan-charles-hackney-ipcc <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The police claimed that an officer intervened to prevent a young man from harming himself. Video evidence suggests a different story. (<em>warning</em>: distressing)</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DFY9xChWsAAcM7v.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Charles, according to @kasxest on Twitter"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DFY9xChWsAAcM7v.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Charles, according to @kasxest on Twitter" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Charles, according to @kasxest on Twitter</span></span></span></p><p>On Friday morning, 4 August, I emailed some questions to the UK police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).</p><p>My questions concerned the moments leading up to the death of Rashan Charles, a 20 year old black man, in the early morning of Saturday, 22 July 2017, in the London borough of Hackney.</p><p>You can see something of what happened to Rashan in a&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashman-police-watchdog-to-investigate-lethal-restraint-of-young-black">video that was posted</a>&nbsp;on Twitter and Facebook late on that Saturday night. (<em>Warning</em>: it’s distressing).</p><p>The place is&nbsp;a supermarket&nbsp;on&nbsp;Hackney’s Kingsland Road. What we’re seeing is the shop’s CCTV footage.&nbsp;A young black man, slightly built, walks down a supermarket aisle. We see him from behind. That’s Rashan Charles.</p><p>A uniformed police officer runs into view, grabs Rashan from behind, pulls him around, pushes him back towards the camera. Nothing we see in Rashan’s demeanour suggests threat. We see no behaviour that might explain what happens next.</p> <p>The officer hurls Rashan to the floor, leans heavily on top of him, appears to apply a headlock. Rashan’s legs kick against the floor. </p><p>A shop worker in a blue shirt, holding cardboard, looks on.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHMAN_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Rashan Jermaine Charles under police restraint, Hackney, Saturday 22 July 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHMAN_1.jpg" alt="" title="Rashan Jermaine Charles under police restraint, Hackney, Saturday 22 July 2017" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Jermaine Charles under police restraint, Hackney, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>Another man, tall, athletic, in blue jeans and black top, gets astride Rashan, pinning his legs down. The uniformed officer cuffs Rashan behind his back.</p> <p>At about 1 minute 45 seconds Rashan appears to stop moving. The officer and the tall man look into his face. The officer shakes him. Rashan stays face down on the floor, hands cuffed behind his back, the tall athletic man still pinning him down.</p> <p>The video lasts 2 minutes and 17 seconds. (A longer, 3 minute 52 second, version of the video appeared on YouTube late on Sunday afternoon. Rashan is still under restraint by the end of it.)</p><p></p><p><iframe width=“560" height=“315” src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rNvf6puOd3c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p><h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">The official version</span></h2> <p>Across UK national media by Sunday 07:00 only BBC online had noted the incident. (I preserved the BBC’s first report <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashman-police-watchdog-to-investigate-lethal-restraint-of-young-black">here</a>&nbsp;and below.) A video was mentioned. The BBC chose not to share that with the public, not to describe its contents, not to provide a hyperlink.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 1.2em;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BBC_REPORT_SCREENSHOT_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="BBC report captured Sunday 23 July 7.04AM"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BBC_REPORT_SCREENSHOT_0.jpg" alt="" title="BBC report captured Sunday 23 July 7.04AM" width="240" height="519" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>BBC report captured Sunday 23 July 07:04hrs</span></span></span></span></p><p>No mention of “restraint”. Not by the police. Not by the BBC who reported only the official line: The police had followed a man on foot after trying to stop a car on the Kingsland Road. The police had “intervened” to “prevent the man from harming himself”. He was “taken ill” after “trying to swallow an object”.</p><p>What might those words suggest? A young man out for the night, fleeing the police, swallowing illegal drugs, choking? A police officer, stepping in, trying to save the young man’s life? </p> <p>We might picture the swallowing, the choking, the calming, the encouragement to cough, the 5 back blows, the 5 abdominal thrusts, the <a href="http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/2301.aspx?categoryid=72">actions recommended in the event of someone choking</a>. </p> <p>Nothing like that happens in the video.</p> <p>Later that Sunday morning, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/ipcc-investigating-police-contact-man-hackney-he-died">issued a statement</a> announcing the start of its investigation. </p> <p>The IPCC stated: “The man became unwell and first aid was provided by a police officer, police medic and paramedics. The IPCC has obtained evidence which indicates an object was removed from his throat at the scene.” </p> <p>Again, no mention of “restraint”.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">Eight seconds behind</span></h2> <p>On the morning of Monday 24 July the <em>London Evening Standard</em> online published <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/cctv-footage-shows-rashan-charles-swallow-object-while-being-chased-by-police-a3594521.html">a second video,</a> 53 seconds long, including, the <em>Standard</em> claimed, the moment Rashan swallows an object.</p> <p>The video tells its own story, with elements the <em>Standard</em> failed to note.</p><p><iframe src='//players.brightcove.net/1348423965/E1bbO8ZNcg_default/index.html?videoId=5518922071001' allowfullscreen frameborder=0></iframe></p><p>The camera, inside the shop, watches the entrance. At about 11 seconds into the video Rashan walks in. We see his face. He puts his hand to his mouth (the moment, the <em>Standard</em> says, when he swallowed an object).&nbsp;Rashan walks across our screen and out of view.</p><p>About 8 seconds after Rashan walked in, the police officer follows, running into the shop. We see his face. He runs out of shot. For about 7 seconds, in the&nbsp;<em>Standard</em>&nbsp;video, both men are unseen.&nbsp;</p><p>What happens during those seconds? The first video shows some of it: Rashan walking down the supermarket aisle, the police officer running, grabbing Rashan from behind, pulling him, turning him, pushing him.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/cctv-footage-shows-rashan-charles-swallow-object-while-being-chased-by-police-a3594521.html"><em>Standard </em>video</a> picks up the story as they come back into view. The officer has got Rashan’s arms pushed up behind his back. He pushes Rashan against an ice-cream cabinet, then throws him to the floor. Of the scene on the floor we see only Rashan’s trainers, kicking against the floor.</p> <p>The first video shows more of what’s happening on the floor: the heavy and prolonged restraint, the tall man joining in, Rashan falling still.</p> <p>Some questions:</p> <p>In what way was the officer trying to prevent Rashan from harming himself? Which actions suggest the prevention of harm?</p> <p>If, as the Metropolitan Police claimed (and the police watchdog and the BBC repeated) the officer “intervened” to prevent Rashan from harming himself, how could the officer know that Rashan had swallowed something? The video evidence suggests that he ran into the shop 8 seconds <i>after</i> Rashan is presumed to have swallowed.</p> <h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">Death by “restraint”</span></h2> <p>The first video appeared on my Twitter feed early on Sunday morning, 23 July 2017. I viewed it maybe 20 times, noted detail and timings, published <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashman-police-watchdog-to-investigate-lethal-restraint-of-young-black">my report</a>, with video embedded, and quoting the BBC story in full, here on <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight">Shine A Light</a> that Sunday morning, and launched it on Twitter. (Rashan had been identified on social media only, and by his nickname “Rashman”.)</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">my report: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rashman?src=hash">#Rashman</a>: Police watchdog to investigate lethal restraint of young black man in Hackney | <a href="https://twitter.com/SHINEreports">@SHINEreports</a> <a href="https://t.co/4JBNqGB9eI">https://t.co/4JBNqGB9eI</a></p>— CLARE SAMBROOK (@CLARESAMBROOK) <a href="https://twitter.com/CLARESAMBROOK/status/889058686504759297">July 23, 2017</a></blockquote> <script type="text/javascript"></script><p>I got the story out fast: I’d researched other state-related deaths of which the first official reports, containing such phrases as “taken ill”, “became unwell”, “took ill”, proved misleading.</p> <p>I’ve reported on “restraint-related” deaths of people of colour, including <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">Jimmy Mubenga</a>, aged 46, restrained to death by G4S guards during a failed deportation attempt, and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Gareth Myatt</a>, aged 15, restrained to death by G4S guards in a child prison. (<em>Warning</em>: these links go to distressing material including violently offensive racist language).</p><p>I was concerned that the police statement and the BBC report had failed even to mention the restraint on Rashan.</p><h2><span style="font-size: 1.2em;">A reporter's assumption, some questions and answers</span></h2> <p>In my report I described the second man, the tall athletic man who gets himself astride Rashan and pins his legs down, as a “plain clothes officer”. I’d made an assumption. Wrong, apparently.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimage1stvid.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="&#039;Member of public&#039; assists police officer in restraining Rashan Charles (still image from first video)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/rash2ndmanimage1stvid.jpg" alt="" title="&#039;Member of public&#039; assists police officer in restraining Rashan Charles (still image from first video)" width="460" height="417" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>'Member of public' assists police officer in restraining Rashan Charles (still image from first video)</span></span></span></p> <p>According to an IPCC update on 25 July: “The officer restrained Mr Charles, with assistance from a member of the public.” On 28 July, the IPCC <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/independent-investigation-death-rashan-charles-%E2%80%93-actions-so-far">again reported</a>: “A member of the public visible on CCTV and involved in Rashan’s restraint is not connected to the police.”</p> <p>On the morning of Friday 4 August I emailed some questions to the IPCC. Later that day, a press officer emailed back.</p> <p>Here are my questions, with the IPCC’s answers in <strong><em>bold italics</em></strong>. The first questions concern the “member of the public”. The last question concerns how the officer might have known that Rashan had put something into his mouth.</p> <i>SAMBROOK: Regarding IPCC statement “A member of the public visible on CCTV and involved in Rashan’s restraint is not connected to the police.”&nbsp;Please would you advise:&nbsp;Did that person act in response to request from the police?</i><p><i><strong>IPCC: This will form part of our investigation.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Has he been interviewed under caution and / or charged in relation to the incident?</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC: No —&nbsp;he has been interviewed though and a witness statement taken.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Can you state his occupation?</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC: No.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Regarding: “not connected to the police”, can you confirm that he has no connection with police or other security services?</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC: Not police or security services.</strong></i></p><p><i>SAMBROOK: Regarding video released showing Rashan Charles entering the shop and putting something into his mouth (video&nbsp;<a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/cctv-footage-shows-rashan-charles-swallow-object-while-being-chased-by-police-a3594521.html">here</a>):&nbsp;Question:&nbsp;Am I correct that the camera is in front of Rashan Charles and the police officer is behind him?&nbsp;</i></p><p><i><strong>IPCC:&nbsp;I’m afraid my decrepit IT doesn’t let me play that video but Rashan is afro-caribbean and wearing a dark jacket. Stills from that video are further down in the article.</strong></i></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none_left 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/IPCC_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/IPCC_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="278" height="99" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><h2><em>Look over there!</em></h2> <p>The first official line from the Metropolitan Police, the IPCC and the BBC, the assertion that Rashan had swallowed an object, and the police officer was trying to prevent him from harming himself, the official line that excluded any mention of the restraint, <em>that matters</em>. </p> <p>The police and their “independent”&nbsp;watchdog, aided by the BBC, launched a convenient narrative early, directing the media and public curiosity towards the swallowed object, inviting speculation about what it might be, what it might reveal about Rashan, his intentions and his character:&nbsp;<em>Look over there!</em></p> <p>They suppressed, by omission, an inconvenient narrative, for which there was video evidence, the story of the restraint, the story of what was done to Rashan, the police actions leading up to his death.</p> <p>On Wednesday 2 August, <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/update-following-meeting-family-rashan-charles-0">the IPCC stated</a> that it had received the results of: “forensic analysis of an object that was removed from Rashan’s airway by paramedics”. </p> <p>And: “The object did not contain a controlled substance.”</p> <p>On Thursday 3 August, the IPCC released <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/commissioner-update-regarding-death-rashan-charles">another statement</a>, this time from the Commissioner overseeing the Rashan Charles investigation, <a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/about/who-we-are/our-team/cindy-butts">Cindy Butts</a>. She said: “We did not provide further details, because the contents of the package are not directly relevant to our&nbsp;investigation&nbsp;– we are looking into the circumstances of Rashan’s death, not investigating Rashan. However, given the inflammatory nature of some ongoing speculation I will confirm that the package consisted of a mixture of paracetamol and caffeine wrapped in plastic.”&nbsp;</p> <h2>The conduct of those involved in the incident</h2> <p>Rashan’s family also <a href="http://www.inquest.org.uk/media/pr/rashan-charles-statement">issued a statement</a> that day. They noted their concern about the IPCC’s “openness and transparency” which was “regrettable at this stage”. </p> <p>About the package and the results of forensic analysis, the Charles family said: “While this is important, we wish to make it clear that the content of the package must not detract from our primary concern, which is to investigate the conduct of those involved in the incident that led to Rashan’s death.”</p><p>The Charles family statement was published by INQUEST,&nbsp;the charity that supports people bereaved by state-related deaths. (The family is represented by INQUEST Lawyers Group members Carolynn Gallwey and Chanel Dolcy of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors.)&nbsp;</p><p>Beneath the family statement, INQUEST noted:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">We are aware of the following deaths after police contact in June/July 2017:</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Wednesday 21 June - Edir Frederico Da Costa, 25, black male, died in Newham, East London following restraint by police after stop and search six days earlier.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Wednesday 19 July - Darren Cumberbatch, 32, black male, died in Nuneaton, Warwickshire following restraint by police.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Saturday 15 July - Shane Bryant, 29, black male, died in Leicestershire following restraint by members of public and police two days earlier.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Saturday 22 July - Rashan J Charles, 20, black male, died in Hackney, East London following restraint by police after stop and search.</p> <p class="blockquote-new">Updates on investigations into these deaths from the IPCC can be found&nbsp;<a href="https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news">here</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kojo-kyerewaa/14-year-old-black-boy-on-his-way-home-from-youth-choir">A 14 year old black boy on his way home from youth choir. . .</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashan-charles-rashman">Rashman: Police watchdog to investigate lethal restraint of young black man in Hackney</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kojo-kyerewaa/fuck-police-working-class-youth-and-routine-abuse-of-power">&#039;Fuck the police!&#039; Working-class youth and the routine abuse of power</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/jon-burnett/twenty-years-after-racist-murder-of-stephen-lawrence-what-has-changed">Twenty years after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, what has changed?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/harmit-athwal/since-stephen-lawrences-racist-murder-how-many-more-ninety-six">Since Stephen Lawrence&#039;s racist murder, how many more? Ninety-six</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Clare Sambrook Wed, 09 Aug 2017 07:25:10 +0000 Clare Sambrook 112756 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Rashman: Police watchdog to investigate lethal restraint of young black man in Hackney https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/clare-sambrook/rashan-charles-rashman <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>Police claim officer “intervened” to “prevent the man from harming himself”. But video shows sustained restraint. (warning: distressing)</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHMAN_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/RASHMAN_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="270" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashan Jermaine Charles under police restraint, Hackney, Saturday 22 July 2017</span></span></span></p><p><em>UPDATE According to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-40696004">BBC.co.uk</a> at 11AM Sunday the young man was aged 20 and has been named by his family as Rashan Jermaine Charles.</em></p><p></p>The Metropolitan police has claimed that a young black man who died in the London borough of Hackney in the early hours of Saturday morning was “taken ill” after “trying to swallow an object” and that a police officer “intervened and sought to prevent the man from harming himself”. <p>But <a href="https://twitter.com/_coinz/status/888885496117694464">video circulating on social media</a> appears to tell a different story.</p> <p>The video shows the young man, who has been identified as “Rashman”, walking down the aisle of a shop.&nbsp;</p> <p>A uniformed police officer grabs him from behind and pulls him backwards.&nbsp;</p> <p>The young, slightly built, black man appears to put up no resistance.</p> <p>The officer then appears to throw the young man to the floor, chest down, landing heavily on top of him. He then appears to apply a headlock. The young man’s legs can be seen moving.</p> <p><iframe width=“560" height=“315” src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rNvf6puOd3c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>At 1 minute 12 seconds a second officer, in plain clothes, joins the restraint, appearing to sit astride the young man, pinning his legs down, while the first officer handcuffs him from behind. [See note* below]</p> <p>At about 1 minute 45 seconds the man appears to stop moving, both officers look into his face, and the uniformed officer shakes him. The restraint continues.</p> <p>In the closing moments of the video, at around 2 minutes 20 seconds, the uniformed officer stands up. The plain clothes officer appears to continue the restraint. (A longer, 3 minute 52 second, version of the video appeared on Youtube late on Sunday afternoon. Rashman is still under restraint by the end of it.)</p> <p>A shop worker apparently witnesses the restraint. There is no audio of the incident. The video’s audio track carries sounds of the shop till and people chatting, presumably at the front of the shop.</p> <p>The video was posted on Twitter by @_coinz at 11.16pm on Saturday 22 July and has been shared using the hashtags #Rashman #justiceforrashman and #JusticeForRash .</p> <p>Here is the BBC’s Sunday 7.30AM report in full:</p> <p><em>The Met Police said the man was followed on foot after officers tried to stop a car in Kingsland Road, Hackney, at 01:45 BST on Saturday.</em></p> <p><em>He was "taken ill" after "trying to swallow an object" and was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later, the force said.</em></p> <p><em>The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has been informed.</em></p> <p><em>Footage apparently showing the incident has been shared on social media, along with the hashtag #JusticeForRash.</em></p> <p><em>Police said the officer "intervened and sought to prevent the man from harming himself".</em></p> <p><em>A force medic provided first aid at the scene before London Ambulance Service paramedics arrived.</em></p> <p><em>The man, who has not been named, was taken to an east London hospital and pronounced dead at 02:55.</em></p> <p><em>Police said next of kin had been informed and a post-mortem examination and formal identification would be "arranged in due course".</em></p> <p><em>"The Directorate of Professional Standards and the Independent Police Complaints Commission have been informed and have declared the incident independent," a force spokesman added.</em></p> <p>People have shared <a href="https://twitter.com/kasxest/status/888965932248444928">pictures of Rashman</a> on social media.</p><p>*NOTE: According to an IPCC update on 25 July: “The officer restrained Mr Charles, with assistance from a member of the public.” See: <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/shinealight/shinealight/clare-sambrook/police-restraint-of-rashan-charles-hackney-ipcc">On the lethal restraint of young black Londoner, Rashan Charles</a>.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DFY9xChWsAAcM7v_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DFY9xChWsAAcM7v_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Rashman, according to @kasxest on Twitter</span></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/shinealight/clare-sambrook/police-restraint-of-rashan-charles-hackney-ipcc">On the lethal restraint of young black Londoner, Rashan Charles</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/nice-work-g4s-wins-118-million-guant-namo-contract">Nice work: G4S wins $118 million Guantánamo contract </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/uk-charity-seeks-funds-to-challenge-use-of-painful-restraints-on-childre">UK charity seeks funds to challenge use of painful restraints on children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/justice-blindfolded-case-of-jimmy-mubenga">Justice blindfolded? The case of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/lara-pawson/unlawful-killing-why-jimmy-mubengas-death-is-british-business">Unlawful killing: Why Jimmy Mubenga&#039;s death is British business</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/damola-awoyokun/no-surprises-in-failure-to-prosecute-g4s-over-death-of-jimmy-mubenga">No surprises in failure to prosecute G4S over death of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/lotte-lewis-smith/rough-handling-and-restraint-uk-forced-removals-still-nast">Rough handling and restraint: UK forced removals still a nasty business</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight ShineALight Rashan Charles Clare Sambrook Sun, 23 Jul 2017 09:25:00 +0000 Clare Sambrook 112448 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Residents challenge council plans to demolish their homes https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/residents-challenge-Lambeth-plans-to-demolish-homes <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Central Hill housing estate in South London is threatened with demolition. Residents are challenging the “regeneration”. Photos by Wasi Daniju, words by Lotte Lewis.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Lambeth Council plans to demolish the Central Hill estate where I live with my dad in South London. <a href="https://housingmanagement.lambeth.gov.uk/estates-regeneration">Central Hill is one of six estates threatened with demolition.</a>&nbsp;There are 456 homes on the estate and a long-established, close knit community. That will be lost during a regeneration programme that could take more than a decade to complete. Even then, there is no guarantee people could afford homes on the new site. Most people are against the plans, but feel ignored by the council. There are residents here who have lived on the estate since its completion in 1975.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BWASI_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/BWASI_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/CWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Last month the residents of the estate held an open day, hosted by the <a href="https://www.savecentralhill.org.uk/">Save Central Hill campaign group</a> and <a href="https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/">Architects for Social Housing</a>. Visitors learned about the history of the estate and the campaign to stop the Labour-led council’s demolition of people’s homes. People shared stories and discussed their encounters with the council. One resident said that the council would <a href="https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/lambethhousingregen/pages/1033/attachments/original/1477334021/ASH_Proposals_-_commentary_-_April_2016.pdf?1477334021">replace the existing low-rise maisonettes and flats on the estate with tower blocks measuring just under 30 metres high</a>. Building regulations stipulate that buildings over 30 metres must be fitted with sprinklers. Some new tower blocks will be built on stilts, but the height of the stilts won’t be counted in the height of the building. As one resident says, <em>if there was a fire and you were forced to jump out of the window to escape, the uncounted void – due to the stilts – will not reduce your fall.&nbsp;</em></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/DWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/EWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/EWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><div>The open day took place four days after the devastating Grenfell Tower fire. As I walked through the tightly knitted corridors of the estate, I heard worried voices: <em>“Do we have any cladding like Grenfell’s? Can we get the council to install sprinklers in our flats?”</em></div> <p>Campaign group <a href="https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/category/save-central-hill-community/">Architects for Social Housing</a> have spent two years working with residents in the Central Hill to design an alternative plan, showing the possibility of building more housing on the estate and refurbishing existing housing – without demolishing a single home. Lambeth Council instantly dismissed the proposal without further explanation.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/FWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Central Hill was designed in the 1960s by <a href="https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/home/rosemary-stjernstedt-london-public-architect-dies-at-86/781421.article">Rosemary Stjernstedt</a>, who worked for the Lambeth Borough Architects headed up by Ted Hollamby. The houses on the Central Hill estate were built low, offering impressive views of London’s skyline. Every home was built with a garden or a spacious patio. Hollamby’s ethos was to put <a href="https://billetto.co.uk/e/open-house-london-central-hill-estate-by-ted-hollamby-and-rosemary-stjernstedt-tickets-96086">“people at the heart of his designs”.</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jan/31/council-estates-if-they-arent-broken-lambeth-council-central-hill-estate-social-housing-affordable#img-2">Trees and wildlife were left to flourish in communal areas.</a></p><p>Maybe we are not entitled to these views. Or the spacious flats, the greenery and the tranquillity. Lambeth Council’s ‘regeneration’ plan will see us kicked from our homes. The area will be given to those deemed worthy of the space: developers, investors and anyone rich enough to buy the replacement luxury flats (white businessmen, from the look of the images in Lambeth’s design leaflets).</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HWASIjpg.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/HWASIjpg.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>‘Housing crisis’ is all over Lambeth’s leaflets for the project. A stream of leaflets is posted through my dad’s door. On its <a href="http://estateregeneration.lambeth.gov.uk/hfl">specially designed website</a> the council writes: “We need these better homes for existing residents, and more new homes to help tackle Lambeth’s housing crisis.”</p> <p>But what sort of housing crisis? Why is the solution knocking down spacious, well-built homes?</p> <p>The council makes it sound like there aren’t enough houses in London for people to live in. But there are <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/20/over-200000-homes-in-england-still-lying-empty-despite-housing-shortages">nearly 20,000 empty homes in the capital</a>, worth about £9.4bn based on the average cost of a London home, which is £474,704. In Lambeth there are 756 empty homes and in the borough of Kensington &amp; Chelsea, where Grenfell Tower still stands, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/20/over-200000-homes-in-england-still-lying-empty-despite-housing-shortages">there are 1,399 empty homes</a>.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/IWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/IWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>The official line is that this regeneration project will benefit us, the residents. We don’t believe this. <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jan/31/council-estates-if-they-arent-broken-lambeth-council-central-hill-estate-social-housing-affordable">Just under five per cent of residents on our estate support the demolition, a fact ignored by Lambeth Council.</a> And regeneration is an expensive business. The council says it wants to build an additional 500 to 750 homes. Architects for Social Housing estimates that Lambeth Council could spend between £225-240,000 per flat. <a href="https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/in-defence-of-central-hill/">That’s between £100m and £120m to demolish and rebuild existing homes.</a> </p> <p>Residents say the council told them construction could last 10 to 15 years. Meanwhile, it is unclear where we will live.&nbsp; Or to use the council’s terminology, where we will be ‘decanted’ to. It’s highly unlikely that we will be able to return to the area at all, but if some do, they will be returning to a transformed area. Towering blocks of flats will replace Rosemary Stjernstedt’s vision. <a href="https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/documents/g9359/Public%20reports%20pack%20Monday%2012-Oct-2015%2019.00%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10">Approximately a fifth of residents</a> are elderly and worry about losing their accessible maisonettes. In light of Grenfell everyone is fearful.</p> <p>The strength and solidarity witnessed in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire demonstrates the thriving survival of community in spite of daily attacks from central government and local councils.</p> <p>Many living on Central Hill estate have been here since its completion in 1975, and at the open day referred to the destruction of the community, rather than just the physical estate. One resident said that on some days, it took her nearly an hour to get from one side of the estate to the other, because on her way she would bump into so many people she has built friendships with over the years. The strength of our communities are a threat to capitalism – and the desire to dismantle it by those in power is clear. There is a painted mural in the middle of the estate that the community had commissioned to read ‘Save Central Hill Community’. When Lambeth Council saw this, they ordered that it be repainted, and now it only reads ‘Community’.</p> <p>Many living on the estate are suffering physically and emotionally from the prospect of having no home, as well as the continually changing “evolution of the promise” made to residents by Lambeth Council. The term ‘regeneration’ – spouted by developers, on council surveys and gentrifying businesses – refers to <em>new growth after loss or breakage</em>. Our communities aren’t broken, and where and who we live with are not without value.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/JWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/KWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Lambeth Council has set up <a href="https://moderngov.lambeth.gov.uk/documents/s77353/Homes%20for%20Lambeth%20an%20SPV%20for%20Lambeth%20Appendix%20C.pdf">Homes For Lambeth</a>, a standalone property development company, to manage the demolition and rebuild of the six estates. When the new housing is built, Homes for Lambeth, rather than Lambeth Council, will be responsible for maintenance and managing tenancies. Homes for Lambeth is the glossy face of its £120m project with promises to increase housing capacity by nearly 45 per cent. But residents are wary. London councils have form in steamrolling through regeneration projects with little meaningful community consultation. The <a href="http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2013/11/look-heygate-estate-whats-wrong-londons-housing">Heygate Estate regeneration</a> in Elephant &amp; Castle is the famous example: the number of social rented homes fell from 1,200 to 79. A one-bedroom flat will set you back £380,000. <a href="http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/16/every-flat-in-new-london-estate-has-been-sold-to-foreign-investors-6577715/">More rooms if you have a million-pounds to spare.</a></p> <p>Just two weeks ago&nbsp;<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/03/britain-power-contempt-grenfell-labour-haringey-social-housing">Haringey Council voted to push through widely criticised development plans</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/03/labour-mps-urge-haringey-council-to-rethink-housing-sell-off">despite widespread opposition.</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/LWASI.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/LWASI.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Some residents worry that the estate has been neglected and poorly managed by the council; the shabbier the estate is the easier it is to argue the case for regeneration. The council’s response to residents’ complaints has been to ignore them, and as Grenfell has shown, this is happening to social tenants across London. </p> <p>Even so, the estate meets the Lambeth’s own housing standards. &nbsp;An internal survey found of residents revealed that the estate is structurally sound, and that refurbishment would cost around a tenth of the current plan to demolish and rebuild. Regeneration <em>is</em> political: rather than properly inspect the mould on my bedroom wall, or make sure all streetlamps work properly when I walk home at night, Lambeth Council will erase the failures they have chosen to ignore.</p> <p>One Central Hill resident declared at the open day: “There is no such thing as the voiceless; there are only those who have their voices systematically and deliberately smothered by those with greater power.”</p><p>The evening of the open day, I walked into Crystal Palace and came across the graffiti artist Artful Dodger painting a mural of Grenfell on an empty wall. It was a warm night, and as groups of passers by sat down together and watched him paint, conversations about Grenfell leading to gentrification and our own areas. When finished, the mural read, <em>Grenfell…How many more will follow?</em> The Council painted over it the next day.</p> <p><span>Visit <a href="www.savecentralhill.org.uk">www.savecentralhill.org.uk</a> t</span><span>o find out more about the Save Central Hill campaign.</span></p><ul><li>Edited by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a>&nbsp;at openDemocracy.</li><li>To follow Wasi on Twitter:&nbsp;@knox_o</li><li>Lotte tweets&nbsp;@lotte_lee_lewis</li><li>To follow Rebecca and Shine A Light:&nbsp;</li><li>@Rebecca_Omonira</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span><br /></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/why-are-so-many-people-being-evicted-in-coalition-britain">Why are so many people being evicted in Coalition Britain?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/losing-your-home-one-day-at-coventry-county-court">Losing your home: one day at Coventry County Court</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/losing-your-home-simon-s-story">Losing your home: Simon’s story</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/hsiao-hung-pai/grenfell-tower-and-people-without-capital">Grenfell tower and the people without capital</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/jake-stanning/grenfell-tower-lack-accountability-deliberate-residents-contempt">At Grenfell, a lack of accountability was deliberate – and residents were treated with contempt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/transformation/angela-mcrobbie/fire-in-neo-liberal-london"> Fire in neo-liberal London</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/christine-berry/after-grenfell-ending-murderous-war-on-our-protections">After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/age-of-corbyn-2-inferno">The Grenfell Inferno</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Austerity Shine A Light Lotte Lewis Wasi Daniju Tue, 18 Jul 2017 23:07:59 +0000 Wasi Daniju and Lotte Lewis 112146 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The UK outsourcing experiment: playing with vulnerable lives https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/kiri-kankhwende/uk-outsourcing-alan-white-serco-G4S <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A review of Alan White’s&nbsp;<em>Who Really Runs Britain?</em>&nbsp;—&nbsp;the private companies taking control of benefits, prisons, asylum, deportation, security, social care and the NHS.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460_0.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460_0.JPG" alt="" title="A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p><span>By any measure, the allegations of abuse by women imprisoned in Yarl’s Wood detention centre should be a public scandal, but despite a stream of reports prompting the Chief Inspector of Prisons to brand the centre </span><a href="https://www.channel4.com/news/yarl-s-wood-detention-centre-becomes-a-national-concern">“a place of national concern”</a><span>, sustained campaigns and protests, there has not yet been a collective public outcry.</span></p> <p>Research into the plight of women at the centre is hampered by a lack of access to official information. In June 2016, the Independent <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/home-office-refusing-to-reveal-whether-women-in-yarls-wood-have-been-raped-to-protect-the-commercial-a7077736.html">reported</a> that a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office asking for further information about sexual violence against detainees was denied on the grounds that “disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests” of the company running it, Serco. </p> <p>The lack of transparency by both the government and Serco, and the obstacle this presents to those seeking accountability for crimes against the women held there, are twin themes at the heart of Alan White’s book on Britain’s outsourcing industry, Who Really Runs Britain?. </p> <p>Yarl’s Wood is just one of many case studies detailed in the book which illustrate both the vast scale of the outsourcing project and the devastating human cost when things go wrong and the lines of accountability are muddied. White examines key areas of the state where services are outsourced, including the NHS, Ministry of Justice, asylum services, social care, disabilities and unemployment — all arms of the state with which some of the most vulnerable people in society interact.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/animals_blurred--(None)_LRG_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl&#039;s Wood, March 2015"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/animals_blurred--(None)_LRG_1.jpg" alt="" title="Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl&#039;s Wood, March 2015" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Still image, Channel 4 News investigation of Yarl's Wood, March 2015</span></span></span></p> <p>The book opens with a memorable case study and one of the few outsourcing stories to permeate the national consciousness, the mismanagement of the security project for the 2012 London Olympics by G4S, which resulted in the army standing in at the last minute. It’s one of the few stories that made a national impact, as the country and the world were focused on London in 2012. However, White notes that “while the implications of the scandal seemed severe for G4S at the time, they actually made little impression on it or the industry”. </p> <p>White goes on to reveal an industry enjoys lack of competition and oversight, meaning that companies like G4S will have multiple contracts and be constantly bidding for more, despite sometimes high-profile failures. </p> <p>Counter intuitively, some contracts are not particularly profitable for the companies involved. However, they are low-risk, as the state provides a safety net in the event of failure, and there are guaranteed inflows of cash.</p> <p>White returns repeatedly to the human cost of failure. As a society, we have to ask ourselves, what is an acceptable level of risk when lives are on the line? </p> <p>The major incentive for the state is supposed to be savings, but interestingly, sometimes outsourcing costs more.</p> <p>White underscores repeatedly that finding data on the details, merits and outcomes of the outsourcing projects is difficult, partly due to the confidential nature of some of the contracts but also because there is no one place that all the information is systematically retained. This is exacerbated by the fact that corresponding figures for comparison don’t really exist for the period when the state ran the services. In essence the British outsourcing project is an experiment with no systematic method of evaluation.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">In essence the British outsourcing project is an experiment with no systematic method of evaluation.</p> <p>The sheer scale of the outsourcing project is facilitated by settled political ideology on its merits. </p><p>Labour firmly adopted the Tory idea of Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) while in power. White notes that in the political context of New Labour’s compromise between social democracy and neoliberalism, “outsourcing was considered a natural development in a corporate-led world”. The pace has increased markedly since the coalition government in 2010. Although outsourcing itself is not an ideology, White notes that it is borne of one, and this consensus hampers cross-party criticism and oversight.</p> <p>Despite the challenges in scoping the industry, White is at pains to point out that rather than a sinister plot, very often the problem is miscommunication or lack of communication between government departments. This book is not a polemic but a forensic and even-handed inquiry. </p> <p>It becomes clear that four companies dominate the sector: G4S, Atos, Serco and Capita. The biggest spenders are the Department of Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice, funnelling hundreds of millions of pounds to these firms, which are too big to fail. They cover everything from security, transport or waste collection to “human services” such as welfare, prisons and probation services to transport, waste collection. </p> <p>White’s book was first published last year with the title Shadow State, Inside the Secret Companies that Run Britain. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Who_Really_Runs_Britain_460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/Who_Really_Runs_Britain_460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="369" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>This new edition carries an afterword given over to voices from these companies, who, perhaps understandably, are often reluctant to engage with a critical media. Nevertheless, there is an acknowledgment from some in the industry of the “accountability vacuum” that White so eloquently unpacks in this book —&nbsp;and which is apparent in the case of asylum seekers housed in a “fire trap” G4S-run hostel in Halifax, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/john-grayson/g4s-fire-trap-hostel-halifax-asylum-housing-grenfell">recently exposed on Shine A Light</a>. Multiple actors including a private landlord, G4S, the Home Office and Calderdale Council all have some responsibilities towards the tenants in the hostel. Activist John Grayson found that “one dangerous consequence of the privatisation of asylum housing, apparent in this case, is the fog around who is responsible for what”.</p> <p>Companies like G4S are quick to point out that when things go wrong, they are often gagged from talking publicly about their contracts by the government on grounds of “commercial confidentiality”, while also being blamed for failures — adding to the confusion around accountability. They are also not allowed to trumpet their successes. </p> <p>There are quite a few points of agreement between White and the outsourcers who have spoken to him both on and off the record: “they want many of the same things campaigners do: more transparency, more innovation, a more competitive market.” </p> <p>But when it comes to figuring out why that hasn’t happened yet, we find ourselves in yet another fog of confusion with contractors and the government pointing fingers at each other. </p> <p>Another point of agreement is that White does not believe outsourcing is inherently wrong, but he does suggest that it can be done better, perhaps by social enterprises, which have different aims and focus to large for-profit companies. Currently, small providers are squeezed out of the broken market. White points to places where outsourcing has worked, using local knowledge, smaller scale and an emphasis on putting the humanity back into human services.&nbsp; </p> <p>A physicist friend of mine once asked incredulously, how the company running the physics laboratory where he worked could be expert at this and also in everything from leisure services to traffic lights and still maintain standards? </p> <p>White points to larger questions: is the for-profit incentive for private companies compatible with improving lives — a qualitative measure which does not sit in the neat margins of a profit/loss worksheet? Following lengthy interviews with advocates of outsourcing, he concludes: “Outsourcers will tell you how they can save money. But few can promise to make things better.” </p> <p>Although the chief executive of Serco makes an impassioned argument that for-profit companies can still work for the public good, &nbsp;a multitude of cases in the book illustrate that standards can fall in pursuit of profit, prompting White to explore whether the profit incentive encourages the contractor to do a good job or encourages them to game the system. For example, how does the need for repeat business square with targets of reducing reoffending rates in the prison system?</p> <p>And surely, this should be the point. How should we, as a society, be caring for those among us who are most in need of it and maintain their human dignity? </p> <p>There are clearly problems in the way that some projects are administered in that they do not take account of the complex needs of disabled or vulnerable people. White points out time and again that the human toll of failure is visited on groups that the public is least likely to care about, like asylum seekers, who are often out of sight and out of mind. </p> <p>But, given that profits are not currently ploughed back into the services (or necessarily staying in the UK), this concerns all of us a matter of social value and the potential effect on society’s social fabric.</p> <p>The outsourcing of public services without effective means of evaluation and rigorous oversight and accountability mechanisms is an experiment with very high stakes indeed.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Who Really Runs Britain?&nbsp;The private companies taking control of benefits, prisons, asylum, deportation, security, social care and the NHS</em>, by Alan White, is published by Oneworld on 6 July.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/harmit-athwal/neglect-and-indifference-kill-american-man-in-uk-immigration-detention">Neglect and indifference kill American man in UK immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live">‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/sarah-uncles/fit-to-run-prison-g4s-dodges-difficult-questions">Fit to run a prison? G4S dodges difficult questions</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kiri-kankhwende/we-all-bring-something-to-table-young-migrants-in-uk">&#039;We all bring something to the table&#039; Young migrants in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/behave-or-get-deported-says-g4s">Behave or get deported, says G4S</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/sian-evans/fighting-to-win-asylum-from-rape-case-of-erioth-mwesigwa">Fighting to win asylum from rape: the case of Erioth Mwesigwa </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/fail-and-prosper-how-privatisation-really-works">Fail and prosper: how privatisation really works</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/british-security-company-g4s-confirms-that-florida-shooter-is">British security company G4S confirms that Florida shooter is one of their own</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/stuart-crosthwaite/marked-out-for-attack-living-in-uk-asylum-market">Marked out for attack: living in the UK &#039;asylum market&#039;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/antony-loewenstein/disaster-capitalism-and-outsourcing-of-violence-in-uk">Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/dying-detainee-84-taken-to-hospital-handcuffed-to-chain-dvorzak-">Dying detainee, 84, taken to hospital, handcuffed to a chain. Dvorzak inquest. Day 5</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Kiri Kankhwende Sun, 09 Jul 2017 23:08:00 +0000 Kiri Kankhwende 112090 at https://www.opendemocracy.net UK charity seeks funds to challenge use of painful restraints on children https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/carolyne-willow/uk-charity-seeks-funds-to-challenge-use-of-painful-restraints-on-childre <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>How can it be wrong to hurt vulnerable children <em>inside</em> a secure children’s home, but all right to inflict pain in transit?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/**boy460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="295" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>image by @ReeceWykes</span></span></span></p><p>Some 200 of the most vulnerable children in England and Wales are held in secure children’s homes. The law prohibits staff from using pain-inducing restraint on children <em>inside</em> the <em>homes</em>. But <em>outside</em> the homes, on visits to court, hospital or a family funeral, pain-inducing restraint <em>is</em> permitted for those children who are remanded or sentenced. What’s more, children can be locked into a “waist restraint belt”. In relation to immigration deportation, the prisons inspectorate has warned the waist restraint belt can be used like a “body belt”,&nbsp; the most extreme form of restraint available in prison, and very rarely used.</p> <p>At the children’s rights charity Article 39, we aim to stop the authorisation of painful and unjustified restraint on vulnerable children. We’re <a href="https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/no-pain-restraint/">seeking funds to mount a legal challenge</a> against the Ministry of Justice. <span></span></p> <p>Secure children’s homes are not the same as child prisons. Of the 200 children in secure children’s homes, about half are placed there for their own welfare and half sent by criminal courts.</p><p> The needs and backgrounds of children sent by the two different routes are virtually identical.</p><p> <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/585991/key-characteristics-of-admissions-april-2014-to-march-2016.pdf">Youth Justice Board data</a> shows that 40 per cent of children sent from criminal courts to secure children’s homes in 2014-16 were children in care. Nearly half (47%) were believed to have a learning disability or difficulty. The same proportion were said by council staff to be at risk of suicide or self-harm. And 17 per cent of the children were the subject of a local authority child protection plan, meaning action was already being taken to protect them from harm.</p> <p class="p1">By anyone’s standards, children in secure children’s homes are extremely vulnerable.</p><p><a class="mag-quote-right" href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463220/Guide_to_Children_s_Home_Standards_inc_quality_standards_Version__1.17_FINAL.pdf">“Restraint that deliberately inflicts pain cannot be proportionate and should never be used on children in children’s homes.”</a></p><p class="p1">The security company GeoAmey holds the Ministry of Justice contract to escort remanded and sentenced children to and from secure children’s homes. GeoAmey has, <a href="https://www.geoamey.co.uk/services/youth-justice-board">“a fleet of 30 vehicles designed specifically for the transportation of children and young people”,</a> according to the company’s website.</p><p class="p1"> Last year, the Youth Justice Board revealed in its annual report that the behaviour management system devised for child prisons is now used by its <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/539930/Youth_Justice_Board_Annual_Report_and_Accounts__2015_to_2016.pdf">“secure escort contractor” taking children to and from secure children’s homes</a>. This system includes techniques that deliberately inflict pain on children. A new form of restraint equipment — the “waist restraint belt” — has been added for the purposes of escorting.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Inflicting pain during restraint is banned inside children’s homes. Statutory guidance states:&nbsp;<a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/463220/Guide_to_Children_s_Home_Standards_inc_quality_standards_Version__1.17_FINAL.pdf">“Restraint that deliberately inflicts pain cannot be proportionate and should never be used on children in children’s homes.”</a></p> <p>We wanted to know what the prison service’s independent medical advisor had told the government about the safety of restraint techniques used on detained children. </p> <p class="p1">The response to our freedom of information request last September explained that the medical advisor had graded use of the techniques in different scenarios for likelihood of harm, and for the level of seriousness of potential harm. </p> <p class="p1">Of 66 scenarios, 28 were rated as 2, on a scale of 1-5, for the risk of “death or permanent severe disability affecting everyday life”. If a child is subject to restraint with a “head hold”, the waist restraint belt carries this intolerable risk, we were told. Not surprisingly, <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/543806/DSO_07-2016_Use_of_Restraints.pdf">the Home Office has banned the use of the waist restraint belt on pregnant detainees</a>.</p><p class="p1"> The Ministry of Justice told us at the same time that no child had suffered serious injury or breathing difficulties while under escort. But this doesn’t explain why the Ministry of Justice has authorised the use of pain during escort, when the Department for Education says such treatment can never be proportionate.</p><p class="p1"> There is also the question of when restraint can be lawfully used on vulnerable children. The law allows escort officers to restrain children for “good order and discipline”, even though similar statutory rules were <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2008/882.html">quashed by the Court of Appeal</a> in 2008 as a breach of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, protection from inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. Staff working in children’s homes are not permitted to restrain children to make them follow orders.</p><div><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Adam Rickwood"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ADAMRICKWOOD460.jpg" alt="" title="Adam Rickwood" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Adam Rickwood</span></span></span></div><p>The infliction of pain on children during restraint has proved lethal.</p><p class="p1"> Fourteen year-old Adam Rickwood was remanded to a secure training centre run by Serco in Durham. There were no custodial places to begin with, so Adam was looked after in a children’s home where he settled well. Once imprisoned, his mental health severely deteriorated. He threatened to take his own life and wrote to the judge pleading for bail. </p> <p class="p1">One Sunday, around a month after Adam arrived at the secure training centre, he was instructed to go to his cell because he had passed a note between two other children. The officer who read the note disapproved of its contents. Adam asked what he had done wrong and refused to leave the communal area. The restraint procedure was activated and four officers came running into the unit, grabbed hold of Adam and carried him, face down, into his cell. One of these four officers later conceded that Adam had been calm and had even tried to defuse the situation. </p> <p class="p1">Adam struggled against the unlawful assault and was inflicted with a “nose distraction”, a restraint technique transferred from adult prisons. Officers would apply an “upward strike” to a child’s nose with the intention of causing severe pain. Adam’s nose bled for around an hour and his requests to go to hospital for an X-ray were ignored. </p> <p class="p1">Hours later, Adam was found hanging in his cell.</p> <p>Adam left behind a note for his lawyer explaining he had asked officers what gave them the right to hit a child in the nose, and they said it was restraint. </p> <p>Adam died 13 years ago. </p> <p>Since then authoritative experts and NGOs have expressed opposition to this form of restraint. They include the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the UN Human Rights Council, the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the NSPCC and the UK’s four Children’s Commissioners.</p><p> Adam was not the only imprisoned child to die following restraint in 2004. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">Fifteen year-old Gareth Myatt</a> was in a secure training centre in Northamptonshire run by G4S. He refused to clean a sandwich toaster because other children had also used it.</p><p> Gareth was ordered to his cell. He complied. Officers followed him and started removing his few possessions, including a piece of paper that had his mother’s new mobile phone number on it. Gareth was said to have raised his fist at this point.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH_MYATT460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Gareth Myatt"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/GARETH_MYATT460.jpg" alt="" title="Gareth Myatt" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Gareth Myatt</span></span></span></p> <p>An officer “enveloped” Gareth who weighed just 6½ stone and stood less than five feet tall. Three officers then forced Gareth into a sitting position and bent his upper body towards his thighs and knees. They ignored his cries that he couldn’t breathe.</p><p> The terrifying ordeal lasted for six or seven minutes before Gareth lost consciousness. </p> <p>This was his first time in custody. He had been sentenced on a Friday afternoon. By the following Monday evening he was dead.</p> <p>The inquests, litigation, reviews and investigations which followed the deaths of Gareth and Adam brought into public view the reality of widespread unlawful restraint. The prison service was contracted to come up with a new system of behaviour management and restraint, and this was launched in 2012. It is called “Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint” (MMPR).&nbsp;</p><p> One-third of the restraint techniques within the MMPR system rely on the deliberate infliction of pain. The “nose distraction” that devastated Adam was replaced by the “mandibular angle technique”. </p> <p>This involves officers applying pressure behind a child’s ear at the back of the jaw. We can try and piece together what is involved by reading the instructions to trainers that haven’t been redacted (crucial bits are blacked-out): </p> <p>The instructors are told: “Emphasise staff can use finger or knuckle dependent on length of finger nails.” And: “Apply pressure inward and forward at a 45 degree angle.” </p> <p>Last year BBC Panorama <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2016/jan/11/panorama-exposes-teenage-prison-abuse-video-extract">appeared to show a 14 year-old child, ‘Billy’, being subject to the mandibular angle technique</a> at Medway secure training centre, which was then run by G4S. (It was later transferred to the prison service). Billy tells the officer he can’t breathe. Panorama asked Dr Andrew McDonnell, a clinical psychologist with expertise in reducing the use of restraint, to view the video clip. He said what was done to Billy was “really dangerous”. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Screenshot, BBC Panorama, &#039;Teenage prison abuse exposed&#039;, January 2016"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460_0.jpg" alt="" title="Screenshot, BBC Panorama, &#039;Teenage prison abuse exposed&#039;, January 2016" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Screenshot, BBC Panorama, 'Teenage prison abuse exposed', January 2016</span></span></span></p> <p>The mandibular angle technique features in the independent medical advisor’s assessment. When a child is standing (as Billy was) or being held down, this is also rated 2, on a scale of 1-5, for likelihood of causing death or permanent severe disability.</p><p> Adam and Gareth had both lived in children’s homes. Adam had hoped to move back to one. He kept his packed sports bag in the staff room so he could quickly leave the secure training centre once news of his bail arrived. He took his bag out of the staff room the day before he died, apparently resigned that a transfer to a children’s home was not going to happen.</p> <p>As well as prohibiting pain, children’s homes’ statutory guidance says: “Children in residential child care should be loved, happy, healthy, safe from harm and able to develop, thrive and fulfil their potential.” </p> <p>That statement is based upon centuries of learning about the needs of children, and conveys the respect we now give to children as human beings with dignity, feelings and rights. Our legal challenge seeks to uphold this commitment to children, from the moment they leave the court building. </p> <p>As a small charity, Article 39 does not have the funds to bring this vital case. We need at least £8,000 to cover our application for a costs-capping order and to pay for unavoidable court fees and charges. And so we’re asking for help. If you can, please back our CrowdJustice appeal <a href="https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/no-pain-restraint">here</a>, tell friends about our work, and share this link on social media. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Edited by Clare Sambrook for&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a>&nbsp;at openDemocracy.</li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/mothers-and-sons-on-children-who-have-died-in-uk-prisons">Mothers and sons. On children who have died in UK prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-guard-fatally-restrains-15-year-old-gets-promoted">G4S guard fatally restrains 15 year old - gets promoted</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/how-many-children-are-sexually-abused-in-prison">How many children are sexually abused in prison?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-suffer-racist-abuse-and-degrading-treatment-by-guards-high-on-d">Children suffer racist abuse and ‘degrading treatment’ by guards high on drugs at G4S Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/children-s-rights-and-uk-general-election-2017">Children’s rights and the UK General Election 2017</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/five-more-arrests-and-another-critical-inspection-report-for">Five more arrests and another critical inspection report for G4S child prisons</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? G4S pays for “independent” report on Rainsbrook prison</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/sex-abusers-guarding-britain-s-most-vulnerable-children">The sex abusers guarding Britain’s most vulnerable children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/prison-treacherous-place-for-child">Prison, a treacherous place for a child</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight openJustice Prisons & child prisoners Shine A Light Carolyne Willow Tue, 04 Jul 2017 12:15:47 +0000 Carolyne Willow 112071 at https://www.opendemocracy.net ‘How do we get out if there’s a fire?’ In Yorkshire, G4S tenants live in fear https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/john-grayson/how-do-we-get-out-if-there-s-fire-in-yorkshire-g4s-tenants-live <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Security company G4S housed six families with babies and toddlers in a fire-trap hostel in Halifax.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Looking out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/AACHILD_WINDOW_460.JPG" alt="" title="Looking out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A child looks out from the G4S hostel, June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>“The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there,” neighbours warned. “It’s because we are black, they don’t care,” one tenant said. They’re talking about a hostel that is home to six families and their nine children, most of them babies and toddlers.</p> <p>Tenants of the six flats in a converted house in Halifax, West Yorkshire, have told me they are frightened. They say the wiring is faulty, the hallways are blocked, and there’s repeated leaks and flooding. They’ve shown me the evidence. They worry about risk of fire, and how they might escape.</p> <p>I first learned about the hostel a little over two weeks ago, on Friday 9 June. A charity worker who supports one of the tenants asked for my help. She said tenants had struggled to get anybody to act on their concerns about fire safety and repairs. </p> <p>Some feared speaking out, worried that this might affect their claims for asylum. All of the tenants are asylum seekers.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_Street_view_hostel.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/A_Street_view_hostel.JPG" alt="" title="The G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>G4S hostel: 17 asylum-seekers live in six flats above shops (images by John Grayson)</span></span></span></p> <p>The worker told me: “At 8.15pm on Tuesday 6 June I went to the flats. I noticed there was no indicator light on the alarm control panel. I contacted the regional manager for G4S, who called a repair man. He arrived just before 9pm, and began installing smoke alarms in the hallways. I am really worried about how safe people are in there.”</p><h2>A visit to the hostel</h2><p><span><span>I visited the hostel on Saturday 10 June and spent four hours inspecting, taking photographs, listening to tenants’ concerns.</span></span></p><p><span>The hostel is part of a converted townhouse, just off Halifax town centre, in the borough of Calderdale. The flats sit atop an electrical shop and another shop, apparently abandoned.</span></p><p>Directly above the shops are two flats. Another floor up, three more flats. Up another flight of stairs, at the top of the house is Flat 6, with more stairs leading up to a mezzanine within the flat.</p> <p>The hostel is owned by a private landlord and managed under a UK government contract by G4S, the international security company. A subcontractor procured the property. The client is the Home Office. Calderdale Council and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Services also have responsibilities towards tenants.</p> <p>One dangerous consequence of the privatisation of asylum housing, apparent in this case, is the fog around who is responsible for what.</p> <p>Here’s what some tenants told me. For their protection we’re calling them Mary, Brian, Eric, Helen, Tasmin, Joanne.</p><h2>Water rushes through the ceiling</h2> <p>“One day in January the electric main board was flashing ‘fire in room 3’ and we dialled 999,” Mary said. “The fire engine could not find the address. I was jumping up and down in the street waving my arms to get them to the flats. It took them forty-five minutes to get here from our call. They said that a leak from a boiler in the flat above had caused the alarm.”&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.water_thru_electrics.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Water rushes through light fittings"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/B.water_thru_electrics.JPG" alt="" title="Water rushes through light fittings" width="460" height="215" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Water rushes through light fittings (screenshot from tenant's video)</span></span></span></p><p>Brian worked as a builder in his home country. He worries about the risk of electrical fire.&nbsp;</p><p><span>“Water pours in everywhere,” he said. “This happened last week.” He showed me a video on his camera. I could see water rushing through the light fittings.</span></p><p>Joanne pointed to exposed wires hanging from the ceiling on one of the landings. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/C.water-leak-electrics.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Evidence of water penetration and ceiling repairs"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/C.water-leak-electrics.JPG" alt="" title="Evidence of water penetration and ceiling repairs" width="240" height="174" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Evidence of water ingress, ceiling repairs</span></span></span></p><p>“Perhaps the wires are not live there,” Joanne said. “But they frighten the older children who hear us talking about the water and the electrics causing fires.”&nbsp;<span>Signs of water penetration and ceiling repairs were all around.</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.G4S_hob.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="This hob replaced the cooker that fused the hostel&#039;s electrical circuits (John Grayson) "><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/D.G4S_hob.JPG" alt="lead " title="This hob replaced the cooker that fused the hostel&#039;s electrical circuits (John Grayson) " width="240" height="180" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Replacement hob </span></span></span></p><p><span>Eric said his G4S cooker had fused the electrical circuits throughout the building. He showed me the replacement two-ring hob that G4S had supplied for himself, his wife and their baby.</span></p><p>Joanne took me to the only external door at the rear of the hostel. Because so many families with young children live here, the hallway is full of buggies. </p><p> <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-medium'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.Shoddy_work_behind_cooker.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/G.Shoddy_work_behind_cooker.JPG" alt="" title="Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker" width="240" height="189" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Shoddy electrical work behind a cooker</span></span></span>“This is our only escape, we have to leave the buggies here, the stairs are so difficult, there is no fire escape,” Joanne said.&nbsp;</p><p>A neighbour who knows the flats had told her: “The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there.”</p><p><span>All the tenants said that over eight months, time and time again, they had contacted the G4S helpline pleading for better and safe conditions for their children.</span></p><p><span>Mary said: “They never do anything, even for the big things, heating and flooding. They don’t care. It’s because we are black, they don’t care.”</span></p> <p>She told me about when the downstairs corridor flooded: “There was water full of oil and waste from the drain outside.” She showed me video on her phone. The water was ankle deep.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.flood_best.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The flood water was ankle deep"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/F.flood_best.jpg" alt="" title="The flood water was ankle deep" width="460" height="490" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The flood water was ankle deep (screenshot from tenant video)</span></span></span></p><p>Tasmin pointed to wet plaster in a corner of the kitchen units in her flat. </p> <p>“Always water comes in,” she said. On her phone were pictures of the debris left when the wall unit crashed down, she said, narrowly missing her six-year-old daughter.</p><p><span>Tenants told me about other worries.</span></p> <p>“Early one morning I heard noises in my living room which woke me and I found a man from G4S there,” one lone mother said. </p><p><span>“He said he had used his own key to get in. My daughter was terrified, she has bad memories of men hurting me in the past. For months the door on my toilet and bathroom would not shut. G4S never did anything. I could have been in the toilet or showering when that man came in.”</span></p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/E.buggies_hall.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Buggies crowd the escape route"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/E.buggies_hall.JPG" alt="" title="Buggies crowd the escape route" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Buggies crowd the escape route (John Grayson)</span></span></span></span></p> <p>She went on: “The local women’s centre suggested to G4S that I get a chain on my door. They refused, but the women’s centre threatened to get the work done themselves, and G4S put a chain on the door, and one on the door of another woman here — but still refused to fit chains on the other four flats.”</p><p>One of the support workers told me: “Three months ago, in March, St Augustine’s community centre sent complaints about the hostel to G4S, but nothing was done about them.” </p> <p>Another tenant recalled a visit from the Home Office: “G4S took them only to the flats where they knew the tenants could not speak good English and were frightened to complain. When I asked why they did not come to my flat, they said the Home Office did not have time.”&nbsp;</p><h2>If you won’t listen to the tenants. . . </h2> <p>G4S knows me and my work. I’m a housing academic. I work alongside refugees at South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, <a href="http://www.symaag.org.uk">SYMAAG</a>. </p> <p>Since G4S won the Home Office asylum housing contract five years ago I’ve <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/john-grayson">published quite a lot about them</a>. </p> <p>On Monday 12 June I contacted G4S and Calderdale Borough councillors and told them that the hostel was unsafe.</p> <p>My intervention prompted an emergency inspection by council officers and West Yorkshire fire service on the Tuesday. On the Wednesday, a G4S welfare officer called in. One tenant suggested an emergency fire drill: “We have never had one, and it would show we cannot get out of the building safely.” </p> <p>The G4S welfare officer allegedly refused, saying: “That’s up to G4S, not me.”&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/H.REAR_VIEW_LITTLE_BOY.JPG" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hostel rear view, little boy just visible at top window (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/H.REAR_VIEW_LITTLE_BOY.JPG" alt="" title="Hostel rear view, little boy just visible at top window (John Grayson)" width="460" height="613" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hostel rear view (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Heidi Wilson is Calderdale Council’s head of environment and housing services. After the inspections she told me that the council took reports of risks to tenants “very seriously” and was “giving them a high priority”. They had given G4S a list of actions and a “short time frame”. Should G4S fail to make the necessary improvements the council “would certainly consider enforcement action”.&nbsp;</p><h2>A dangerous place for babies</h2><p>When I called in to check on progress on Thursday 15 June, I found G4S workers making repairs that had been first reported months ago. I was told that the Home Office was going to send someone to inspect the place.</p><p>I climbed all the way up to the top of the house to see Helen. She lives up there with husband Brian and their three year old son. Another stairway led to the small mezzanine where their son had had access to a floor-level window. On Tuesday&nbsp;<span>the council had noted the “poor guarding to the window”. So&nbsp;</span><span>G4S workmen had boarded up the stairway.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/J_BRAND_NEW_NOTICEBOARD15_June_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/J_BRAND_NEW_NOTICEBOARD15_June_0.jpg" alt="" title="Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brand new noticeboard, erected 15 June 2017 (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>Helen told me: “The G4S boss when he came up here yesterday said: ‘This is a dangerous place for babies.’”</p><p>As I left the property I saw the G4S supervisor putting up a noticeboard by the front entrance, near the alarm control panel. He had pinned up no-smoking signs, a&nbsp;<span>warning about the absence of fire extinguishers,&nbsp;</span><span>a fire safety log book and a floor plan. Someone had taken a fat red marker pen and marked out a rough escape route on the plan.&nbsp;</span></p><p>All the information was in English. Most tenants are still learning the language.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.ESCAPE_PLAN_15_June.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/I.ESCAPE_PLAN_15_June.jpg" alt="" title="At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)" width="460" height="411" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>At last, an escape plan (John Grayson)</span></span></span></p><p>I set about researching fire safety, emailing and phoning the tenants and G4S with more questions.</p> <p>It wasn’t easy. Fire safety regulations are fiendishly complex. G4S’s own spokesman confessed to having difficulty. </p> <p>G4S appeared to be in breach of fire regulations. </p> <p>Before the hostel opened last year, it seems, they should have arranged for a fire risk assessment by a qualified fire safety practitioner — as required by the <a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1541/contents/made">Fire Safety Order 2005.</a></p><p>From what I could see, G4S had an obligation to test the alarm every week and hold a monthly fire drill. Tenants told me these things hadn’t happened.</p><div><p class="mag-quote-left">Tenant: It’s because we are black, they don’t care.</p><p>The regulations require that testing dates are recorded in a log book displayed in the building. The log book on the newly erected notice board contained just one entry —&nbsp;for a test dated April 2017.</p> <p>All escape corridors and landings should have smoke alarms and emergency lighting. But the hallway smoke alarms were fitted on Tuesday 6 June 2017, eight months after the hostel opened. </p> <p>Every kitchen should have a fire blanket. And they do. I asked one tenant, who is fluent in English, to open the packaging. She said: “The instructions are confusing. No one has ever told us about fire safety here. There are no instructions on the fire blanket or anywhere else in any language — except difficult English.”</p> <p>My reading of the regulations suggests that G4S has a responsibility to inform and regularly update tenants on fire safety — and to provide safety information in appropriate languages.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Neighbour: The only way that landlord will do anything is when children die in there.</p><p>All of these things seem anyway like basic common sense if you are housing multiple families with small children in a four or five storey house.</p> <p>As landlords of asylum housing for babies and small children, G4S has particular obligations. </p> <p>The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 (<a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/11/section/55">Section 55)</a> requires that immigration and asylum functions be carried out with respect for the need to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children”.</p> <p>After the Calderdale council inspection on Tuesday 13 June, one tenant told me: “The council man said the bedroom with my children should not be used. He said the window was too small to let light in for them.” &nbsp;</p> <p>I asked G4S to respond to the issues raised in this article. On 15 June a G4S spokesman said the building had a valid electrical certificate and was “compliant with fire safety standards”. </p> <p>About the flooding, G4S said: “There has been a very recent issue with damp after the landlord installed a new concrete walkway outside the property which is not draining effectively.&nbsp;We are in discussions to have a drain fitted. A roof leak has also recently been rectified and the landlord will be making good any cosmetic damage that arose.”&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/K.G4Slogo2JUNE2006.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/K.G4Slogo2JUNE2006.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="284" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>And the intrusion? G4S said: “Our protocol is that when our staff visit a property they knock twice (leaving a gap in between).&nbsp;If there is no answer they unlock the door and call out to announce themselves.&nbsp;If there is still no answer they then proceed into the property, calling out that they are from G4S. We are entirely confident that this procedure is — and was — followed at this property.”</p> <p>At the company’s request —&nbsp;(the spokesman sounded quite flustered) — we delayed publication of this piece to give G4S time to provide further comment.</p><p>On Tuesday 20 June, I tuned in to BBC Radio Sheffield, for&nbsp;<span>Toby Foster</span><span>’s</span>&nbsp;breakfast show. He had an <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p056f4dx">interview with John Whitwam</a>, the ex-army officer who is G4S managing director, immigration and borders. Whitwam told listeners that G4S had about 18,000 asylum-seekers in 5,000 properties. “There is a great deal of scrutiny,” he said. “These properties are probably the most inspected in the UK.”</p></div><p><span>Whitwam said the G4S helpline took 4,000 calls last month. Toby Foster cut in: “5,000 houses, 4,000 calls! Nearly every house is ringing you every month!”</span></p> <p>Whitwam replied: “These aren’t <em>all</em> complaints.” And then: “That’s not to say many of them aren’t.”</p> <p>I was still waiting for the company’s response to my queries on Tuesday evening, when a tenant called to say that an extractor fan had fallen off the wall in Flat 2. She said she was only slightly injured, but her four year old child was hysterical.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/L.John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/L.John_Whitwam-BBC-Derbyshire.jpg" alt="" title="John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017" width="460" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>John Whitwam on BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme 31 January 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>On Tuesday evening, Brian was back in touch. He said the G4S welfare officer had been round to tell them: “The Home Office are coming tomorrow, you have to say everything is fine in the flats.”</p> <p>On Wednesday afternoon Brian called again. He said the woman from the Home Office had been round, she’d done more talking than listening and assured them that if there’s a fire, they’ll have plenty of time to get out.</p><p>On Thursday another tenant called to say that workmen were, at last, fitting smoke alarms in tenants’ rooms.&nbsp;</p> <h2>A curious response from G4S</h2> <p>Also on Wednesday came the company’s detailed response to my queries.</p> <p>It was odd.</p> <p>G4S offered a series of curious assertions that neither confirmed nor denied tenants’ allegations about fire safety, but, rather, bypassed their concerns.</p> <p>For example, G4S noted: “Smoke alarm and fire alarm tests as recorded in our monthly property inspection report.”</p> <p>On the absence of fire drills, G4S claimed: “Drills are not mandatory for private dwellings.”</p> <p><em>Private</em> dwellings? </p> <p class="mag-quote-right">G4S: These properties are probably the most inspected in the UK.</p><p>And: “All fire safety information is provided as part of the induction when asylum seekers move into the property and information in 71 languages is available in the home.”</p> <p>Seventy-one languages!</p> <p>About the absence of fire log books, G4S claimed: they “are sometimes taken away and used as notebooks by residents.”</p> <p>And the apparent failure to arrange a fire risk assessment on the building until after I got involved? G4S claimed: “All fire alarm systems are checked monthly.” </p> <p>About the Fire Service inspection of 13 June, prompted by my interventions, G4S claimed: “All adjustments recommended have now been completed. Any observations made by the fire services regarding door fittings or openings were rectified within two days.”</p> <p>About the alarm control panel that had either been turned off or was defective, G4S said: “We require service users to report defects to control panels and we operate a 24 hours turn around policy to fix or replace such systems.” </p> <p>G4S has claimed repeatedly that it <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/8e793754-d6dd-3531-b8b9-c00de20fb4a9?mhq5j=e3">loses money on asylum housing.</a> The company, which had no prior experience of housing asylum seekers, won the Home Office contract after a computer-based reverse auction. G4S bid £8.42 per family member per night (according to contract details revealed in a High Court judgement <a href="http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2017/200.html">here</a>). At that price, packing 17 people into the Halifax hostel brings the monthly take to around £4,300.</p> <h2>Who’re you gonna call?</h2> <p>Until last Thursday, Calderdale <a href="https://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/community-and-living/equality-and-diversity/asylum-seekers-and-refugees">Council’s website told asylum-seekers</a> in the borough that their housing was provided, not by G4S, but by another company, Cascade Homes. The council supplied a phone number tenants could call if they needed help and advice.</p> <p>I called the number. An angry man picked up. He said he was fed up with getting calls and he had nothing to do with Cascade.&nbsp;</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/N.calderdalewebsite.20JUNE2017_1.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Calderdale Council&#039;s misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/N.calderdalewebsite.20JUNE2017_1.jpg" alt="" title="Calderdale Council&#039;s misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)" width="460" height="382" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Calderdale Council's misleading advice to asylum-seekers (screenshot 20 June 2017)</span></span></span></p><p>I told the council about that —&nbsp;they corrected the online advice. They said Cascade no longer managed properties in Calderdale, only procured them. G4S confirmed: “Yes, all properties in the Halifax area are provided by Cascade.”</p><p>I was sorry that Cascade had been given any role to play. </p> <p>Over years I’ve reported on their shoddy behaviour. How Cascade asylum properties in Leeds were <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/cockroach-in-baby%E2%80%99s-bottle-asylum-seeker-housing-by-security-giant-g4s">infested with cockroaches and slugs</a>.&nbsp;<span>Male staff </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/their-secret-is-out-but-for-g4s-and-friends-%E2%80%98abject-disregard-for-human-dign">harassed women tenants</a><span>.&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/g4s-forced-to-step-in-over-sub-contractors-performance/7001552.article">Cascade failed to pay energy bills and council tax bills</a><span>. </span></p><p><span>My evidence has been&nbsp;</span><span>cited in Parliamentary inquiries and debates. Speaking in the Commons on 27 February 2013, </span><a href="https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/71/71vw32008_HC71_01_VIRT_HomeAffairs_ASY-93.htm">Mark Durkan MP said</a><span>: “What is especially alarming is that the neglect and suffering go on, regardless of this kind of public and Parliamentary exposure. There has been little impact on the everyday practice of G4S and their subcontractors.”&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>In February 2014 G4S announced that they&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/g4s-forced-to-step-in-over-sub-contractors-performance/7001552.article">had dropped Cascade.</a></p> <h2>‘<span>I watched that place burn</span><span>’</span></h2> <p>While we were working on this piece, on Wednesday 14 June 2017, fire gutted a tower block in West London with appalling loss of life. </p> <p>The block was called Grenfell Tower. </p> <p>The residents were mostly people of colour, and poor. The first victim to be named was <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-first-victim-named-mohammed-alhajali-syrian-refugee-a7791401.html">Mohammed Alhajali, a Syrian refugee</a>. </p> <p>Grenfell tenants had warned repeatedly that the flats were unsafe. Their warnings were variously dismissed, ignored, and met with legal threats. </p> <p>“White tenants said their concerns were ultimately ignored, but officials were more likely to listen to them,”&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/20/opinion/london-tower-grenfell-fire.html">British journalist Dawn Foster</a>&nbsp;<span>wrote</span><span>&nbsp;in the New York Times. “Black and South Asian survivors told me they felt the implicit message from everyone they contacted before the fire for help with the building was ‘you are a guest in this borough, and a guest in this country, you have no right to complain’.”</span></p> <p>Back in the Halifax hostel, the tenants have come from East Africa, West Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.&nbsp;<span>Up in the top flat, Brian told me how Grenfell had shocked him: “I watched that place burn,” he said. “I thought I couldn’t get out of this flat if there is a fire.”</span></p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>Edited by Clare Sambrook for <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/uk/collections/shine-light">Shine A Light</a> at openDemocracy.</li><li>To follow John on Twitter: @SYMAAG</li><li>To follow Clare and Shine A Light:&nbsp;</li><li>@CLARESAMBROOK</li><li>@SHINEreports</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/fail-fail-and-have-another-government-contract">Fail, fail, and have another government contract</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/john-grayson/welcome-to-my-asylum-home-i-d-offer-you-seat-if-i-had-one">Welcome to my asylum home. 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What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/gareth-mitchell/high-court-blasts-outrageous-assault-by-tascor-staff-on-tort">High Court blasts ‘outrageous’ assault by Tascor staff on torture survivor</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/margaret-hodge/parliamentary-watchdog-too-often-private-sector-contractors-ethical-stand">Parliamentary watchdog: too often private sector contractors&#039; ethical standards found wanting</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/capita-guard-course-did-not-tell-me-what-to-do-if-someone-is-not-breathing">Capita guard: “The course did not tell me what to do if someone is not breathing”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Austerity G4S: Securing whose world? Prisons & child prisoners Access to justice Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light John Grayson Mon, 26 Jun 2017 23:08:14 +0000 John Grayson 111844 at https://www.opendemocracy.net High Court blasts ‘outrageous’ assault by Tascor staff on torture survivor https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/gareth-mitchell/high-court-blasts-outrageous-assault-by-tascor-staff-on-tort <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Highly unusual punitive damages awarded to Felix Wamala, who was subjected to intensely painful, dangerous restraint techniques.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/TASCORPROMO_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/TASCORPROMO_0.jpg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="347" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tascor promotional material</span></span></span></p><p><span>In a damning judgment published on the evening of 22 June 2017, the High Court has found that staff employed by Tascor, a Capita subsidiary, seriously assaulted a mentally-ill torture survivor. The Judge also describes as “outrageous” and “utterly unacceptable” the regular use of painful, dangerous and unlawful restraint techniques.</span></p><p><span>The judgment describes a chain of events triggered by serious blunders by Theresa May’s Home Office in 2011.</span></p><p>Subsequently, five officers from Reliance (since renamed Tascor) took 46 year old Felix Wamala into their custody unlawfully and attempted to unlawfully remove him from the UK on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha on Christmas Eve 2011.</p><p>After threatening Mr Wamala in order to get him on the airplane, Mr Justice Walker has found that the officers severely assaulted Mr Wamala. During this prolonged assault, an unauthorised “pain compliance” technique was used.&nbsp;<span>Mr Wamala experienced “intense pain”. He also experienced difficulties breathing.</span></p><h2><span>Believed he was going to die</span></h2><p><span>Mr Wamala had known </span><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">Jimmy Mubenga</a><span>, an Angolan national who had died during a similar restraint episode the year before. The High Court accepts that Mr Wamala believed he too was going to die as the five officers pinned him down on the floor of the aircraft aisle and assaulted him.</span></p><p>Eventually, Mr Wamala was dragged off the airplane to a waiting escort van. This part of the assault was captured by the van’s CCTV camera in footage played in court and described by the Judge as “shocking”. The footage shows Mr Wamala being dragged into the van by his cuffed arms, crying out in pain, and with the escorts stood over him shouting at him.</p><p>The High Court has found that Mr Wamala suffered serious physical injuries as a result of the assault, as well as severe psychiatric injuries the effects of which are on-going.</p><p>In further damning findings, the Judge found that:</p><ol><li>Reliance’s staff made “highly improper” amendments to a critically important UK Border Agency document. Reliance/Tascor then repeatedly disputed that its staff had done so in documents submitted to the High Court.</li><li>One of the escort officers, Carol Govey, provided “manufactured testimony” to the High Court. Ms Govey was also criticised for her “antagonistic” and “unprofessional behaviour” towards Mr Wamala, which was recorded in the CCTV footage; this included referring repeatedly to Mr Wamala, who is black, as “Bruno”.</li><li>Another officer, Carol Lee, had in her evidence before the High Court “constructed an account thought to be helpful to [Tascor’s] case”.</li><li>Before he was placed on the airplane, Mr Wamala correctly informed the officers that they were acting unlawfully. However, their response was simply to laugh at him and to tell him they were “not bothered”. According to the Judge, they displayed a complete lack of understanding of when it is lawful to remove someone from the UK.</li><li>After the incident, Tascor told the Home Office that Mr Wamala had been violent and aggressive. This false statement had “severe” consequences for Mr Wamala in terms of his subsequent treatment by the immigration authorities.</li></ol><p>In a very unusual move, and one reflecting the seriousness of the High Court’s concerns about the conduct of Reliance/Tascor, the High Court has ordered Tascor to pay exemplary damages. These are punitive damages reserved for “outrageous exercises of unlawful executive power”. </p><p>In making the award, the Court concluded that Tascor’s staff had routinely used unapproved, intensely painful and dangerous restraint techniques. The High Court has ruled that this was “utterly unacceptable and calls for condemnation”. The Court said that the use of an unauthorised “pain control technique, which could and did easily go wrong, is a particularly disturbing feature”; so too the “flagrant disregard of the express prohibition [in the Home Office contract] of the use of any head restraint”. This prohibition reflects the well-known risks of restraint asphyxia.</p><h2>Disregard for the law at corporate level</h2><p>As Mr Wamala’s solicitor, I can say that&nbsp;the treatment of Mr Wamala was inexcusable, and so is the Home Office’s failure to take any action either against Tascor or the individual officers who were involved.&nbsp;</p><p>This is not just a few bad apples, the High Court has identified a disregard for the law at a corporate level. That is why the High Court has taken the very unusual step of ordering Tascor to pay punitive damages.</p><p>Tascor and the Capita group continue to earn tens of millions of pounds annually from the Home Office’s escorting contract and, as far as we are aware, the officers who assaulted Mr Wamala continue to have responsibility for escorting people from the UK on behalf of the Home Office.</p><p><strong>Documents</strong>:</p><p>For the judgment including annex 1&nbsp;<a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://www.dpglaw.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Wamala-v-Tascor-Services-Ltd-2017-EWHC-1461-approved-judgment-publis...-1.doc" target="_blank">click here</a>. For annex 2 to the judgment&nbsp;<a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://www.dpglaw.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Wamala-v-Tascor-Services-Ltd-2017-EWHC-1461-annex-2-to-approved-judg...-1.doc" target="_blank">click here</a>. For our press release which summarises the judgment&nbsp;<a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://www.dpglaw.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Wamala-press-release-with-judgment-para-cross-refs.docx" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><hr /><p>Gareth Mitchell, who acted for Mr Wamala, is a partner at civil rights and judicial review specialists <a href="http://www.dpglaw.co.uk">Deighton Pierce Glynn</a>.&nbsp;@dpg_law on twitter.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/lotte-lewis-smith/rough-handling-and-restraint-uk-forced-removals-still-nast">Rough handling and restraint: UK forced removals still a nasty business</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/people-tied-up-like-animals-on-uk-deportation-flights">People tied up ‘like animals’ on UK deportation flights</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/kath-grant/capita-death-ombudsman-exposed-problems-that-coroner-failed-to-address-family">Capita death: Ombudsman exposed problems that Coroner failed to address, family says</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/jackie-long/headbutt-bitch-serco-guard-yarl-s-wood-uk-immigration-detention-centre">&#039;Headbutt the bitch&#039; Serco guard, Yarl’s Wood, a UK immigration detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/woman-stands-naked-on-airport-runway-takes-overdose">Woman stands naked on airport runway, takes overdose</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/margaret-hodge/parliamentary-watchdog-too-often-private-sector-contractors-ethical-stand">Parliamentary watchdog: too often private sector contractors&#039; ethical standards found wanting</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/racist-texts-what-mubenga-trial-jury-was-not-told">The racist texts. What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/justice-blindfolded-case-of-jimmy-mubenga">Justice blindfolded? The case of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/antony-loewenstein/disaster-capitalism-and-outsourcing-of-violence-in-uk">Disaster capitalism, and the outsourcing of violence in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/nadia-graham/5-reasons-why-we-stopped-ukgov-deportation-flight-to-nigeria-la">5 reasons why we stopped a UKgov deportation flight to Nigeria last night </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/mia-light/do-your-parenting-by-skype-uk-tells-fathers-being-deported-to-jama">Do your parenting by Skype, UK tells fathers being deported to Jamaica</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-omonira-oyekanmi/theresa-may-s-tough-line-on-immigration-punishes-br">Theresa May’s tough line on immigration punishes British children</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/inquest-jury-finds-failures-in-detainee-healthcare">Inquest jury finds failures in detainee healthcare</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/frances-webber/uk-government-s-inversion-of-accountability">The UK government’s inversion of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/90-of-immigration-detainees-visiting-hospital-were-handcuffed-in">90% of immigration detainees visiting hospital were handcuffed, inquest hears</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/phil-miller/capita-guard-course-did-not-tell-me-what-to-do-if-someone-is-not-breathing">Capita guard: “The course did not tell me what to do if someone is not breathing”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Gareth Mitchell Fri, 23 Jun 2017 14:19:57 +0000 Gareth Mitchell 111854 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Fit to run a prison? G4S dodges difficult questions https://www.opendemocracy.net/shinealight/sarah-uncles/fit-to-run-prison-g4s-dodges-difficult-questions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>At a locked down shareholders’ meeting, security company boss sidestepped hard questions, praised BBC exposé of abuse.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p style="text-align: center;"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/fucking_door_G4S460.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>G4S boss Ashley Almanza said the BBC team who exposed abuse in a G4S child prison deserved to win their BAFTA Award. Almanza was speaking at the company’s annual meeting on 25 May at the Holiday Inn, in Sutton, Surrey.</p> <p>An undercover BBC reporter had <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">filmed shocking abuse of child prisoners</a> at G4S Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent.
 One boy, who had self-harmed, was subjected to unlawful violent restraint on the anniversary of his mother’s death.
 A burly G4S guard yelled in the face of another child, aged 14, grabbed him, pushed him onto a table, twisting his arms behind his back. The BBC Panorama film, broadcast in January 2016 <a href="http://www.bafta.org/media-centre/transcripts/winners-acceptance-speech-current-affairs">won the current affairs BAFTA</a> in June 2017.</p> <p>Almanza, G4S chief executive officer, commended the documentary, saying that Panorama had performed a “good public service” and “deserved” the BAFTA. He confirmed that G4S has withdrawn from two of the three youth service government contracts to date, following the Panorama revelations.</p> <p>Almanza’s comments came in response to a series of questions that <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com">Reclaim Justice Network</a> members put to G4S directors at the company’s annual general meeting. <a href="https://downsizingcriminaljustice.wordpress.com">Reclaim Justice Network</a> campaigners advocate social justice, not criminal justice, and call for the immediate and complete withdrawal of G4S from all criminal justice services in the United Kingdom. </p> <p>The UK government continues to rely on ineffective practices of policing, surveillance and prison to address complex economic, social and political problems. The prison industrial complex describes the overlapping interests of government and private industry in the criminal justice sector. G4S profits from government contracts in care and justice services.</p> <p>G4S proudly claims to be “the world’s leading, global, integrated security company”. According to its <a href="http://www.annualreport.g4s.com/documents/G4S_2016IR_Final_PDF.pdf">2016 annual report</a>, the company boasts a massive £296 million profit before tax. The market dominance of G4S is perhaps surprising, given its long, tainted <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/23/g4s-prisons-contracts-hmp-birmingham">history of serious failings</a>. </p> <p>For the fourth consecutive year Reclaim Justice Network members attended the meeting, as shareholders, to challenge the board on the company’s record.</p> <h2>Extreme security</h2> <p>Airport-style security measures, intimidating and intrusive, have become routine at G4S annual meetings. All electronic devices, bags and accessories had to be removed and placed within a locker. Every shareholder was required to walk through a metal detector and then have their body scanned by a guard armed with an electromagnetic wand. </p> <p>Uniformed G4S guards, and other staff identifiable by their blue lanyards, lined the walls and were strategically placed amid the rows of shareholder seats. </p> <p>Once the meeting began it became clear that G4S personnel overwhelmingly outnumbered the independent shareholders in the room.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/g4s_logo_c_slogan-465.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/g4s_logo_c_slogan-465.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="304" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>John Connolly, G4S chairman, opened the meeting, drew attention to the “meeting procedures” and warned that anyone who disrupted the meeting would be asked to leave. “Safety is incredibly important and is our number one priority,” he said.</p> <p>Nine board members sat at the front table. What followed was a fine-tuned and polished performance of weaving evasiveness by chairman John Connolly and chief executive officer Ashley Almanza.</p> <h2>Remuneration</h2> <p>A question was posed concerning remuneration and awards to staff. Specifically, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/21/managers-g4s-medway-youth-jail-paid-bonuses-despite-failings">performance-related pay awards given to the senior managers at Medway</a> youth jail in April 2016 that amounted to between 10% and 25% of their annual salaries. </p> <p>A <a href="https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2016/01/Medway-Secure-Training-Centre-advice-note.pdf">report</a> by the Chief Inspector of Prisons concluded that “managerial oversight failed to protect young people” who suffered both physical and psychological abuse at the prison. </p> <p>Almanza, who took home <a href="https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/g4s-boss-takes-home-75-rise-after-scandal-hit-year-qrjlj0rwc">£4.8m in pay and perks last year</a>, said that those directly involved with the abuse had been removed from their positions and subjected to a police investigation. However, he avoided commenting on the bonuses received by the senior managers whose failed oversight arguably put young people at risk of harm. </p> <h2>Revolving doors</h2> <p>Another question concerned <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/05/20/prison-service-boss-hired-manage-troubled-g4s-detention-centres/">G4S’s new recruit Paul Kempster</a> — until recently a civil servant and “head of custodial contracts” <a href="https://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/contacts/hmps/prison-finder/prison-map.pdf">for 12 UK prisons</a>. The questioner wanted to know the time lapse between Kempster’s government job and the start of his contract at G4S.</p> <p>Connolly and Almanza both hesitated to answer. They asked other members of staff and received confirmation that Kempster had “started fairly recently”. Connolly stepped in, saying: “I am sure that whatever is standard time lapse protocol has taken place.”</p> <p>This is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/26/g4s-youth-jails-a-story-of-revolving-doors-dangerous-restraints-and-death">not the first time that government employees have been snapped up by G4S</a>. The revolving door creates inevitable conflicts of interests in government decision making and increased interference of private companies in the public sector. </p> <p>John Connolly, by the way, was formerly senior partner and chief executive at the big accountancy firm Deloitte’s where he <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/supportservices/5973813/Deloitte-chief-John-Connolly-collects-5.2m-as-anger-grows-over-City-pay-deals.html">trousered a £5m annual pay package</a> just as the financial system came close to collapse.</p> <h2>Poor performance</h2> <p>Another questioner asked about <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/justice-update--2">faulty electronic monitoring equipment</a> administered by G4S, that may have led to unwarranted enforcement action.</p><p> Almanza said the faulty batches were removed and “the client”, meaning the Ministry of Justice, was satisfied with this response, although no investigation into the consequences of this error was undertaken. </p> <p>The shareholder then asked how many fines and penalties G4S has paid because of contractual failures, such as this. Almanza said he was “not at liberty to disclose”, there were confidentiality concerns, and he directed shareholders to “ask the client”.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ASHLEY_ALMANZA_g4S_8MARCH2017_460.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/536680/ASHLEY_ALMANZA_g4S_8MARCH2017_460.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="256" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style=""/></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ashley Almanza discusses G4S financials on Bloomberg, March 2017</span></span></span></p> <p>The questioning then moved onto a riot in <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-38350970">Birmingham prison in December 2016</a>. Prisoners took over four wings for 12 hours, igniting fires and destroying prison records. The shareholder asked whether the board agreed that “G4S are not fit to run prisons”, given that it had overseen “the worst prison riot in 26 years”.</p> <p>Connolly intervened and instructed Almanza “not to answer”, claiming the comment was phrased as a statement, not a question. Almanza said that he didn’t agree with the shareholder’s statement and “neither do our clients”. The board refused to discuss the riot or elaborate further.</p> <h2>Prisoner safety </h2> <p>Concerns about safety in G4S prisons were raised by another shareholder who asked whether rates of self-harm and suicide had improved. </p> <p>Almanza took the question. He was quick to point out that self-harm has increased across UK prisons. He explained that in the last year there had been 344 non-natural deaths in prisons, including seven in prisons run by G4S.</p> <p>This raises concern. G4S are not specialists in mental health provision and prisons are not institutions fit for vulnerable individuals experiencing mental illness. Almanza, in his own words, described the “daunting, unsettling and isolating” environment of prison that can lead to self-harm. </p> <h2>Transparency? Accountability?</h2> <p>Concluding remarks were made by a shareholder who expressed disappointment with the lack of direct answers provided to the shareholders’ questions. </p> <p>Annual general meetings supposedly provide a forum for transparency and accountability. This meeting lacked both.</p> <p>At the start one shareholder had complained that the minutes of the 2016 G4S annual meeting were the “worst set of minutes” she had ever seen. They covered only formal business and failed to record serious concerns raised by shareholders. G4S’s legal officer asserted that the minutes complied with legal requirements.</p> <p>During the meeting, the board consistently failed to provide specific information that shareholders requested —&nbsp;from statistics on self-harm to details of financial penalties. For many of the issues raised the responsibility was passed to their clients, the Ministry of Justice.</p> <p>John Connolly did invite shareholders to put any specific questions in writing, guaranteeing that the board “will get back to you”.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rebecca-roberts/g4s-dont-blame-us-blame-prison-system">G4S: Don&#039;t blame us — blame the prison system</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/rebecca-roberts/more-mega-prisons-wont-fix-broken-society">More mega-prisons won&#039;t fix a broken society</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/rob-preece/bullying-kids-g4s-abuse-of-child-prisoners-exposed">Bullying kids: G4S abuse of child prisoners exposed</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/carolyne-willow/safe-place-for-children-g4s-pays-for-independent-report-on-r">A safe place for children? 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What the Mubenga trial jury was not told</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Shinealight uk ShineALight G4S: Securing whose world? Immigration detention and removal in the UK Shine A Light Sarah Uncles Wed, 07 Jun 2017 23:08:30 +0000 Sarah Uncles 111503 at https://www.opendemocracy.net