Retribution for the riots: some common sense at last

The news that Wandsworth Council has backed away from its decision to pursue the eviction of the mother and 8-year-old sister of Daniel Sartain-Clarke, who was convicted of burglary during the August riots, is an important victory for the Labour opposition in Wandsworth and a defeat for the vindictive and punitive wing of the Tory Party, including Cameron and Shapps and their local henchman, Council leader Ravi Govindia.  The decision has greatly disappointed the Daily Mail.

Immediately after the riots, when the idea of evicting the families of rioters who were social tenants was first raised, I argued on Red Brick that this approach ‘may allow politicians to sound tough.  It may be what people want.  But it isn’t justice.  It’s double punishment, it’s guilt by association, it’s discrimination on the grounds of tenure, pure and simple. ‘

Such was the furore raised by the right wing media, a bandwagon immediately jumped on by Cameron and Shapps, that it was a brave decision by the opposition in Wandsworth to stand against the decision in principle.  The disgrace is that the Council moved against the tenant before her son was convicted of anything and before the circumstances of the case, and whether there was any mitigation, became clear.  The Tories, nationally and locally, were driven by the cheap headlines they could get and the desire to find someone, other than themselves, to blame.  As ever, social housing tenants were an easy target as people like Iain Duncan Smith tried to place the blame on ‘estates’.

I know nothing about Daniel apart from what I read in the press and on Wandsworth Labour’s website.  An 11 month sentence certainly seems to comply with Cameron’s instruction that rioters should all go to jail.  But I would commend a brilliant blog post by  Jules Birch on the double standards involved, comparing and contrasting the treatment given to Sartain-Clarke and another double-barreled thief, Antony Worrall Thompson, who was a repeat offender but a celebrity who got away with a caution and an apology.  Certainly no-one argued that Worral Thompson’s family should be evicted from their home.

It is unclear whether any other council or housing association is still pursuing the eviction of a tenant because of a riot-related conviction, currently the law would appear to allow this if it could be classed as being in the neighbourhood of the property concerned.  It is also uncertain whether Shapps and Cameron will actually pursue their plan to extend the law in a move that would entrench the double punishment of the guilty, the punishment of the innocent, and discrimination against social tenants.

Stop press: a good update from Wandsworth Labour Councillor Leonie Cooper here.

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One Response to Retribution for the riots: some common sense at last

  1. Anonymous says:

    Why does this have to be about politics?

    I got angry when I heard the mother say she is NOT responsible for her son’s actions. Why not?. Surely she must be responsible for her son’s upbringing?

    There were riots on the streets. Why did n’t the mother telephone her son to come home?

    In my local area, I have complained to mothers about their children’s bad behaviour. Only to get verbal abuse from the mothers. They don’t care what their children are up to. And then people wonder why we see riots on the streets?

    People are too scared to confront youths who are causing ASB.

    If you went to the third world and gave them food they would be grateful. In this country, you can give social housing, benefits and you still end up with people who don’t appreciate this is a generous country.

    The blog has missed the point. Crime and ASB blights people lives. There are people who are too scared to leave their homes. I know of a people who have been burgled 5-6 times. There are criminals who appear to be watching who is leaving their home for work and know when home and neighbours are away and then they strike.

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