Following the recent riots the clamour among politicians to sound the toughest has been very loud indeed.
One aspect that has emerged has been the plan to evict families from local authority housing upon the conviction of one family member for offences during the riots.
Wandsworth Council started by issuing an eviction notice to a mother because her 18 year old son has been charged with offences committed during the riot.
I strongly believe that such punitive action is against natural justice. How is it right for a mother to suffer homelessness because of the actions of her 18 year old son? It is easy for a teenager to get out of a house without their parents permission, and commit criminal acts. What should they do? Bar the doors and windows?
If the family is in some distress and difficulty as a family unit, eviction will either leave them homeless or put them in the hands of a slum landlord somewhere worse. Putting such a family in this position worsens the chance of them addressing the issues affecting them. They are more likely to be stuck in poverty, suffer worse health, get involved with further crime and impact their community in a very negative way.
These are evictions are unjust as well. When David Gilmour’s son was convicted for violent disorder, was the the Pink Floyd guitarist evicted from his luxury homes? Of course not. How can it be fair to treat those who live in local authority homes differently?
What leaves me deeply ashamed is the fact that this policy of punitive evictions is being enacted by Labour run Councils in Nottingham, Salford, Greenwich and Manchester. This policy runs so against the grain of Labour Party ethics, if I were a Councillor in those areas I would fight to end against it. If I were in a ward where the local Councillor supported this, I would no longer be able to vote for them, and seek their de-selection at the first opportunity.
What’s required are calm heads, and not to get caught up in the heat of the moment. What seems a way to appease public anger is nothing more than a travesty of justice, which will deepen the issues driving the riots, cost the tax payer more through poor health and funding prison places and further worsen social divisions.