Occupants removed from the building despite ongoing pandemic
Police officers assisted a business owner to carry out in eviction on Hackney Wick on 29 April, removing the building’s occupants despite government advice to “stay at home” due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The incident at 5 Prince Edward Road on 29 April is the latest in a string of evictions carried out since the UK’s lockdown measures were introduced on 23 March.
Evictions have carried on, despite the government committing to a “complete ban on evictions” on 18 March.
Speaking at the scene Inspector Thomas Vie said: “I’ve just kicked a load of people out who have, essentially, admitted to me that it is not their property.”
Vie said the building was made up of a mixture of commercial and residential property.
At least one police van and one police car attended the incident along with what appeared to be a private security company van designed to carry dogs.
One man was led out of the building in handcuffs by a police officer during the incident.
In a statement released after the eviction the Metropolitan Police said: “Police attended a residential address in Prince Edward Road E9 at around 14:14hrs on 29 April, where civilian enforcement officers were evicting people squatting.
“Three men were arrested on suspicion of squatting and abstracting electricity. They remain in custody.”
On 25 March, the Labour party said that it appeared that landlords were evicting tenants at record rates despite the government’s promise that no one will lose their home because of coronavirus.
At the time John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, said he had received a whistleblowing email from a proprty management company saying that evictions were at a record high in their region.
The company told him there was anecdotal evidence that this was happening across the country, and said it was having to recruit more bailiffs to deal with demand.
The government recently amended their initial 3-month moratorium on evictions to exclude cases of trespass. There are reports of an increasing number of illegal and police-supported evictions as courts are facing an unprecedented backlog, meaning that owners and bailiff companies are taking the law into their own hands.
Trespass in commercial properties is a civil, not criminal matter, and in the case of mixed used properties, there is no crime if people are not “living” in the residential part. If they are using it for work, storage, or as part of a protest, then no crime has been committed.
– Freedom staff