Riots: No ‘jackboot’ evictions in Camden

HANDS up who thinks evicting rioters and looters and their families from council homes is a good idea? While Wandsworth and Greenwich councils get to work on the idea, there does not seem to be much appetite for similar punishment in Camden’s corridors of power. Emails doing the rounds in the local Labour group include this assessment from housing chief Councillor Julian Fulbrook:

Personally I am not happy with knee-jerk Salem style Wandsworth witch-hunting… Indeed, even rioters and looters need to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. The words of Pastor Niemoeller come to mind: ‘First they came for the Socialists but I did nothing because I was not one of them, then they came for the trade unionists. Jews. (Looters and rioters). Then they came for me and there was no-one left to defend me!’ We will not be engaging in lynch mob justice and jackboots in Camden’.

 

12 Comments on Riots: No ‘jackboot’ evictions in Camden

  1. Slowly, common sense and human connection are displacing the pitchfork-wielding hysteria of the past week. Thank you Julian. So glad I live in Camden and not Wandsworth or Greenwich.

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    • a pedant writes // August 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm //

      Like Anna, I agree with Cllr Fulbrook’s general line of thought here, but find his own tone as – if not more – hysterical as that of which she says he is responding to. ‘Witch-hunting’? I wasn’t aware that the proposal was to burn rioters alive (though that was a fate nearly faced by some of the victims of some of the rioters). Nazi jackboots? Again, wasn’t aware that the proposal was to put looters and rioters in concentration camps and torture them to death. Anyone in this context to whom the words of Pastor Niemoeller come to mind clearly doesn’t understand them. Perhaps Cllr Fulbrook should ask for some lessons from Mrs Fulbrook (Professor of German History at UCL) about the misuse of Nazi analogies. Alternatively, he needs to go and lie down in a darkened room for a bit!

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  2. Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance…..

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  3. No, yes, maybe.

    Usually employment contracts cover disciplinary procedures including dismissal for bringing a company into disrepute through criminal activity, but is there any precedent for conducting similar action for tennants?

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  4. BTW there are precedents and regulations for thisin the U.S. but generally consider the following types of crimes or criminal activity for eviction (and allowing for appeal under certains circumstances):

    “Drug-related criminal activity on the property by a tenant, household member, guest, or person under the tenant’s control provides grounds for lease termination. The landlord can evict a family when a household member is illegally using drugs or when a pattern of illegal drug use interferes with the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.

    The landlord may evict a family if a family member’s alcohol abuse threatens the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises by other residents.

    The landlord may also evict a tenant who is a convicted felon and is fleeing to avoid criminal prosecution or custody or a tenant violating probation or parole.”

    None of which comes even close to public order offences, ‘rioting’, theft, burglary, looting, or receiving stolen goods.

    http://www.peoples-law.org/node/451 (Maryland / Baltimore)

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  5. Keith Sedgwick // August 14, 2011 at 12:51 am //

    Oh stop posturing Fulbrook, you know this isn’t going anywhere!

    I witnessed how a family was able to cause havoc in my neighbourhood for over ten years and then undergo an eviction process that lasted another four years, ending up with them being rehoused in a recently refurbished, Victorian mansion block in Swiss Cottage.

    You, me and the Council Officers know that criminal youths and their families are almost impossible to evict. So quit with the pious nonsense for in truth this decision was made for you by the Borough Solicitor and you had no say in the matter.

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  6. I’m proud of Camden for actually having a bit of common sense. Reassuring to see that at the moment!

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  7. Well done Camden. Let the lynch mobs go back to their place on the outskirts of town. We evict families because of what one member has done for reasons that are not just to do with criminality and we’re lining up a whole heap of trouble for the future. Or should I say more trouble. No-one has any time for the gangsters who took the opportunity to play out their spiteful agendas on small businesses and local communities but so far as I see it they are not the ones who are being prosecuted at the moment. The soft end of the wedge. To evict youngsters for one mistake that may be their last is not the right action to take. Camden leads the way again. Respect.

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  8. Keith, can I firstly suggest that the phrase ‘criminal youth’ is entirely unhelpful. Secondly, it has been a tool in Camden’s antisocial behaviour toolbox for some time that families can lose their tenancies due to the behaviour of their children. At the Winch we have before and currently work with families in this situation. So there is definitely ‘a precedent’ for this sort of process and justification of it.

    However, I can’t help but feel that this process being a difficult one, as Keith suggests, is probably a good thing. It gives us more of an incentive to engage constructively and look for more intelligent solutions than the rather pointless and punitive responses being discussed above. Furthermore, we are hugely helped by the presence of Families In Focus in Camden, a truly fantastic and exemplary council agency which works with families, children and young people in a way which has set our borough apart from others. Let’s hope they survive the 2012/13 budget.

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  9. Keith Sedgwick // August 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm //

    Now, Paul Perkins, there speaks the voice of the middle-class professional, who has no idea what it’s like to live next door to one of these wretched families.

    This has been the problem with our housing estates. Residents have been left to stew in a mire of disorder and criminality, emasculated by people like you, whose positions depend on the continued creation of these dysfunctional miscreants who wreak havoc, by claiming sole ownership of the discouse through which solutions are sought. Seeking to correct the terminology I use is typical of the high-handed and proprietorial attitude displayed by professionals, who claim to have all the answers to our social ills.

    Believe me, when you live next to a property around which intimidating gangs gather, if you are continuously being awoken by the sound of police raids on that property in the early hours of the morning, if you and your neighbours have to live in the constant fear of being burgled again, none of this sanctimonious waffle is of any solace.

    For many years, Camden was in denial about the existence of gangs in the borough. Those of us who spoke up were accused of sygmatising youths (as in this case), Council estate tenants and in the worst case, particular racial groups.

    Well let me tell you Paul, a young person who deals drugs, robs fellow youths of their mobile phones and who burgles his neighbours is by any stretch of the definitions a ‘criminal’. You know, as a professional in the field, the sort of youths who receive intervention services only qualify by virtue of having committed a criminal offence. So what sociological jargon do you and your colleagues use to describe these young men who have been determined as ‘criminal’ by our courts? By any reasonable consideration they are ‘criminal youths’

    The irony is that what has been a constant in the lives of our most deprived and marginalised communities for the past thirteen years, is only now being openly acknowledged by Labour policians who should have done something about it when they were in power. Its a shame that it had to take these gangs leaving their estates and rioting in our town centres for them to admit to their failure.

    We who have had to live amongst these people all these years have had our fill of this holier-than-though clap-trap, Paul. This time though, it looks like the rest of the public are finally behind us.

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    • Keith, I’m aware you have a particular axe to grind on this subject. Unfortunately, on this occasion you have played the man rather than the ball, and played the man very, very poorly.

      I made two points above, one in relation to a comment you made and one in relation to a question about whether there is precedent for evicting families based on antisocial behaviour of children. (Admittedly, I did also say that I felt Families In Focus was an initiative which Camden is rightly proud of. This appears to have been a clumsy and incendiary comment, unbeknownst to me.) Whilst you somehow managed to extrapolate that I suggested calling young people engaged in criminal activity ‘incorrect’, if you read my comment properly you would have seen that I in fact suggested it was ‘unhelpful’. Secondly, I pointed out that there was indeed ‘precedent’ for the benefit of the other commenter. I am more than happy to to discuss these particular points and others here if helpful, but was reluctant to fill this comments section with increasingly lengthy and rambling arguments.

      In honesty, I was unprepared for your conjecture about my background, where I live, what I believe, how I work, what I think, what I ‘know’ and how my organisation operates, all of which you appear to have got completely wrong. Ironically, I share a number of similar concerns about the sector in which I work and the approach of recent years to tackling intractable social problems. Of course, you might have discovered this had you taken a moment to caveat your comments or find out a little more about me and the recent work we have been undertaking at the Winch, much of which your former colleagues are well aware of. I have made no secret of the fact that I regard traditional approaches to these challenges across the political spectrum as having failed and needing a new conversation.

      Either way, I would like to meet with you to further discuss the points above. I think it could be interesting and productive. I’m around on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning, or can look to find a time which better suits. Let me know your thoughts.

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  10. Keith, I have heard that before: that problem families and individuals get transfers from council estates to council street properties. A council officer report published in 2009 also says that problem tenants typically get moved to street property basement flats. It doesn’t solve the problem though and does look more like a reward than anything else.

    It would be interesting to find out whether the council monitors the problem families and individuals that have been given transfers to street properties to guage whether or not there is an improvement in their behaviour and if not then what solution the council has come up with.

    Its a difficult one.

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