Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More police intimidation at the place we sleep, Salters

Last night I was lucky enough to avoid being escorted by two police officers to a police van at the place we sleep – the back of Salters' Hall, a porch located on a derelict highwalk (see blog of 5 June “Salters back in the spotlight” for two Google map photos of the pitch).

At around 10.00pm – Declan is about to nod off to sleep in his sleeping bag and I am reading a book – two security guards from the company Guarding UK approach us. They flash their lights into my face and as bluntly as possible one of them tells me that they are patrolling the highwalk and they want us off it, right away. I point out that we have been sleeping at Salters’ Hall since last September, on the highwalk since January, and the porch is owned by the Salters’ Company over which they have no jurisdiction. All falls on deaf ears, and within ten or so minutes two police officers are on the scene (incident no. 10903).

By now Declan has all our stuff out of the porch and is separating things for what we believe will surely be my arrest – last September I was arrested by four police officers for a breach of the peace because I refused to move on as a result of having nowhere else to sleep (see blog of 11 September “I am arrested for ‘breach of the peace’”); last Friday night I was also threatened with arrest by another police officer who wanted us to move ourselves and our things away so that two City of London Corporation street cleaners could wash and disinfect the porch floor (this skulduggery is carried out under what the City of London police call Operation Poncho II, see previous blog).

PC 208CP and PC 671CP from Bishopsgate police station are adamant that we have no option but to leave the highwalk, and no, PC 208CP says, the police don’t need a court order to force us to vacate the highwalk! Anyway, I refuse to move and we very much repeat the things we said on the night of the 28 May when two police officers from Snow Hill police station and two workers from the homeless organisation Broadway visited us (see blog “Last night something surreal happened”) - Declan made a couple of hilarious comments, as usual, particularly relating to his washing on the street since 10 April of last year because of harassment and intimidation by other homeless at the RC Sisters of Mercy Dellow Day Centre and the Catholic Manna Day Centre (see blog of 14 May “Letter to Archbishop Vincent Nichols”).

PC 208CP informs us on leaving with the two security guards that if we want our copies of the record of the encounter/stop (called 386s) to which we are entitled, Declan should call into the police station in the morning to collect them because he doesn’t have any with him! The police station had nothing for him this morning, though.

This visit from the police just happened to come on top of an afternoon of variety for Declan. First, he had to email Asab Ali, the manager of our local council’s Idea Store Whitechapel library – located only a few minutes from the huge East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre – regarding the library’s MIMEsweeper software blocking access to his Google Mail account due to “Porn Detected”. (Only a few weeks ago I was bullied by two security guards into vacating the computer I had booked the previous day, which I refused to do, see blog of 13 May “Letter to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council”.)

Then he had to submit a written complaint to the manager of the local internet café against a homeless man from the Salvation Army’s Booth House hostel for homeless men across the road, such was the extent of the unprovoked and loud verbal abuse he was subjected to sitting among the upstairs computers – “you have no f*ckin’ manners”, “you are an Irish grass”, etc.; of course, Declan has no idea how this guy knows he is Irish!

For the record, this is the email Declan sent this afternoon to City of London Police Commissioner Michael Bowron on the incident last night:

Subject: CAD 10903 (16/06/09)

Dear Commissioner Bowron,

I refer to the attached copy of my email to you of 13 June (and attachments) regarding Operation Poncho II and wish to confirm that I retain a stamped With Compliments slip dated today from Bishopsgate police station, stating:

On wed 17/06/09 at 08.00 Mr Declan Heavey attended Bishopsgate police station to collect 386 in relation to stop at Salters Hall (CAD 10903 of 16/06/09). Copy not found. Mr Heavey intends to return on 18/06/09 in the hope of collecting said 386.

As you are aware, my wife and I are of no fixed abode and have been sleeping rough in the City of London since 3 November 2006. (We slept in the same porch until a trellis gate was installed on 4 September 2008, and as from 12 September our sleeping pitch has been located at Salters' Hall, Fore Street.)

I can confirm that at 10.00pm last night two City of London police officers from Bishopsgate police station, PC 208CP and PC 671CP, were summoned to our sleeping pitch at Salters' Hall by two security guards from the company Guarding UK who were patrolling (a derelict) St. Alphage Highwalk. PC 208CP informed my wife that he was not in need of a court order and that she had to vacate the highwalk immediately. My wife refused as a result of having nowhere else to sleep, the upshot being that the two police officers and two security guards left, PC 208CP informing me on leaving that if I wanted our copies of the record of the encounter/stop to which we were entitled I should call into the police station in the morning to collect them.

I reconfirm that at 1.00am last Friday night PC 493CP from Snow Hill police station insisted pursuant to Operation Poncho II that my wife and I move out of our sleeping pitch at Salters' Hall to allow two City of London Corporation street cleaners to wash and disinfect the porch floor. When my wife refused as a result of having nowhere else to sleep, she was told by PC 493CP that she would be arrested if she did not vacate the porch. Again my wife refused, the upshot being that one of the street cleaners poured disinfectant around where she remained outstretched in her sleeping bag. With that, PC 493CP and the two street cleaners left the highwalk.

Perhaps I should mentioned here that the homeless organisation Broadway, in an unsolicited email to my wife and me on Monday (also attached), and in quoting from my wife's blog of 11 June "Harassment at the place we sleep, Salters", acknowledged by implication the content of her blog of 29 May "Last night something surreal happened", thereby sealing my wife's defense for a court subject to the Human Rights Act 1998.

In the event of error in transmission, please note that the order of attachments is as follows:


Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey