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Criminals to face eviction from their council homes

Town Hall’s hard-line approach is branded ‘unfair double punishment’

29 June, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Councillor Joe Caluori and, right, former Islington Lib Dem councillor and criminal defence lawyer Greg Foxsmith

THE Town Hall is to start evicting families of repeat criminals from their council homes.

Islington Council said it had to take a “harder edge”, particularly with youngsters who break the law and still live with their parents on its estates.

But the get-tough measures – regarded by some as a “double punishment”, with conviction followed by eviction – have been branded as “discriminatory” and “unfair”.

The plans were unveiled by the council’s cabinet member for young people and families, Councillor Joe Caluori, who said Islington “had to respond to what the community is saying”.

He added: “We have to have a bit of a harder edge going forward where we still have the support [for families] but we have to get a bit tougher with people who are not doing what they should be doing in the community.”

Cllr Caluori’s strategy mirrors that of Tory MP Victoria Atkins, a Home Office minister, who last week publicly backed the harder approach.

“If you get the threat of eviction telling you to change your behaviour and if you don’t take the steps then you have effectively evicted yourself because you have been given the chance to do the right thing,” said Cllr Caluori.

“There are cases where the parents are unable to control their children and ask for help. It wouldn’t be appropriate to evict [in those cases] – it would make things worse.”

But former Islington Lib Dem councillor and criminal defence lawyer Greg Foxsmith cautioned Islington to tread carefully. He said: “The law should always apply equally to everyone. To introduce a policy that can only sanction a certain section of society – those who don’t own their homes – is prima facie discriminatory and unfair.”

He added: “Under this policy one person allegedly offending can jeopardise the entire family, where some members may be law-abiding. Why should they be punished for the action of someone under their roof?”

Sceptics distinguish between the way some offenders can be convicted and evicted because they live in council homes, while those in privately-owned flats and houses do not get hit with the second punishment.

Cllr Caluori said that evicting families from their socially rented homes would be “the absolute last choice”. Only those “colluding” with their criminal children would be targeted.

The Town Hall will use intelligence reports from police to decide which families to target for evictions, said Cllr Caluori.

“If you go into the community, the families that are causing the most problems and seem to think they are above the law are well known. You don’t have to look far or ask too many questions to find them,” he said.

In response, Mr Foxsmith warned: “The devil is in the detail. I expect a far higher evidence-based approached. Intel from neighbours could be malicious, with tit-for-tat cases where they are dealing with somebody they don’t like.”

Cllr Caluori says Islington has already shown that it is tackling youth crime, hailing the success of an integrated gangs team backed by £2million investment running to 2020.

The team, based at Islington police station in Tolpuddle Street, brings together a psychologist, council workers, police officers and volunteers to help tackle youth violence.

Cllr Caluori said: “We have seen a huge reduction in moped-enabled theft, a fall in the number of young people being stabbed as it’s increased in other London boroughs. We are determined that when we see evidence of early offending that may later turn into a gang we do early intervention.”

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