“Refrain from... attempting to instigate the Police into unlawful arrests of homeless people,” says UNITE Trade Union Branch to City Council leaders
Today, after watching a video of uniformed police officer and the four Manchester City Council employees that he accompanied being questioned, assertively, by homeless women and men and their supporters at a camp under the Mancunian Way on Oxford Road (https://youtu.be/X_1ernCA4Nw), John Clegg, Secretary of the Greater Manchester UNITE Community Branch observes:
“It is particularly deplorable if, as is apparent, a homeless person has been arrested for alleged breach of the injunction obtained by Manchester City Council while not even within the exclusion zone defined in the injunction and with no other lawful authority.
We have already written to Manchester City councillors asking them to do what they can to oppose the actions of the Council against the various homeless camps, and we call on them specifically to prevail on the Council leadership to refrain from draconian actions and particularly from attempting to instigate the Police into unlawful arrests of homeless people.
We also call on the Police Commissioner to investigate the apparent actions of the Police in threatening and carrying out such unlawful arrests.”
This latest intervention with our city’s street homeless follows on the heels of the arrest of a street homeless man in the Hulme area of the city at 1am last Saturday night. A Magistrate subsequently dismissed the case against him: https://youtu.be/PHBvi_GrzYE
Ben Taylor of WTB Solicitors, who has been representing some of the city’s homeless people in the courts, also viewed the videos this morning:
“The woman in Oxford Road demonstrated remarkable resolve and restraint in the face of a challenge by council employees and the police.”
That woman, artist Jennifer Wu, today urges:
“This isn't a game show you sit back and watch. The Council are making people homeless. And now they're threatening prison - for what, staying alive? We need to come forward and get the Council and Central Government to stop all this death and destruction- to stop attacking the homeless and start protecting life.”
Reflecting on the actions of the police, Mr Taylor disclosed:
“I am most keen to understand the basis upon which a man was arrested in Hulme on Friday night. I am very concerned that the police are arresting and producing people before the magistrates court for allegedly breaking the terms of this injunction order. But breaking this injunction order is not a criminal offence and there is no power of arrest: meaning that no one can be arrested for breaking this injunction.”
At this time, the instructions under which council workers are being directed to operate and who is issuing them are unknown, as is the amount of social, or council, housing that is actually available in the city. It would be helpful if the City Council simply disclosed what housing stock they actually have.
The order that District Judge Matharu of Manchester’s Civil Justice courts approved on Friday 31st July 2015 forbids people from “erecting and/or occupying tents or other movable temporary forms of accommodation for the purposes of or in connection with protests or similar events arising from or connected with the Claimant’s [Manchester City Council’s] homeless policy on land”, within a specified area of the city “without the Claimant’s consent or the consent of the lawful occupier of the land.”
The order goes on to define what is NOT INCLUDED AS MOVEABLE TEMPORARY FORMS OF ACCOMMODATION i.e. ACCORDING TO THE ORDER, ANYONE IS ALLOWED TO SLEEP IN THE CITY IF WE USE:
a. Sleeping bags / blankets
b. Cardboard boxes
e. Bus shelters
f. Hostel accommodation
g. Overnight charity accommodation
THEREFORE, it appears that the order is not what the Council sought. The order granted appears watered down from the draft sought by the Council and now applies only to those protesting in connection with Manchester City Council’s homeless policy.
THEREFORE, the order does not apply to protestors who are protesting about any other issue (e.g. Austerity Measures, Racism, Benefits Cuts, National Homeless Policy etc).
EQUALLY, it does not apply to people not protesting at all, but simply homeless and occupying tents/moveable forms of accommodation.
If Manchester the City Council were to attempt to bring a committal application, it would have to satisfy the court, TO THE CRIMINAL STANDARD OF PROOF, that the alleged contemnor (person held in contempt of court) had broken the terms of this very specific order.
For further information contact:
Dr Rhetta Moran: firstname.lastname@example.org/ 07776264646
Please keep your eye on www.rapar.org.uk for updates