IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Police: ‘High harm offenders living in social housing could face eviction’

Families could lose their homes following Town Hall-backed scheme to crack down on crime

01 November, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Superintendent David Moorhead

SIX Islington families who are “high harm offenders” in social housing are currently at risk of losing their homes under a police scheme backed by the Town Hall.

Superintendent David Moorhead, part of the frontline policing team in Islington, told the Tribune they had the option of ­recommending that a
family is evicted from their home to Islington Council.

Supt Moorhead said: “This isn’t anything new, it’s something we did in east London. We are looking at communities blighted by serious violence, we are looking at high harm offenders and looking at families complicit in their children’s criminality and effectively assisting them.”

He stressed that his team were looking at “families who are not working but running around in high-value vehicles such as Range Rovers” and his officers’ priority was to “support the families out of criminality through a ­multi­agency approach” before seeking their eviction.

He said: “We’re trying to get them to live like the bulk of the community, we’re trying to put them on the straight and narrow before they do something bad.

“We have a real problem with gangs across London and for local police that includes Islington and Camden – these family members will be well known to police and on the gangs’ matrix. We’re not going after someone who hasn’t paid their road tax. These families and family members are high harm offenders.”

He added that his team had “worked successfully” with two families who are now no longer being considered for eviction.

“It sends a strong message out to people who might think they are above the law. This is the end result of a long road, where high harm offenders have blighted the lives of the community,” he said.

He added he was “not bothered” where the families go after eviction. “They are high harm offenders, they have not altered their behaviour,” he said.

Councillor Joe Caluori, the former council chief for young people, announced the tough approach in July last year but his get-tough measures were criticised as “discriminatory” and “unfair” by former Lib Dem councillor and criminal defence solicitor Greg Foxsmith.

Mr Foxsmith said at the time: “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.”

An Islington Council spokesman said this week: “Islington’s partnership approach is to work with families in the context of their community, to address underlying issues and to prevent and deter people from involvement in criminal activity.

“We avoid evicting families where possible as this just moves the problem from one area to another; however, people in the community can be understandably fed up if a small minority ruin their neighbourhood through criminal activity.

“So if they are in council housing and choose to refuse all help, as a last resort and only in appropriate cases, we reserve the right to ask a judge to make an eviction order.

“This approach has been used on a very limited number of occasions over a number of years, but it is right that this serious deterrent against criminality is available to us.”

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