2 September 2011

I explained briefly the other day in the post Only connect why I think eviction after the disturbances is wrong. I listed some Labour councils who were warning of the possible eviction of their tenants who had been convicted, or one of whose resident family members had been convicted, arising from involvement in the riots.

Certainly councils should consider the issues and I think that how Labour councils respond to all this will tell much about Labour values.

Do look at this statement from one of those councils. There are warning letters but the references in the statement to proportionality in responding to adult tenants and to appropriateness where young children are involved show due awareness and are encouragingly positive.

Let me elaborate a little on why I think post-riot eviction is wrong.

1 It is wrong to punish individual people who are innocent of any offence, to evict a family because of the involvement of a resident member – and eviction is a severe punishment

2 The effect of eviction on innocent (and guilty) children is likely to be damaging to their education, health, and prospects

3 The effect of eviction on innocent adults is likely to be damaging on their wellbeing, employment, and family life

4 In addition to the damage to individuals and families, the cost to society, the rest of us, of eviction and its consequences is likely to be substantial

5 Eviction of tenants of social housing reinforces the status of such tenants and housing: it says that they are people with lesser rights than owner occupiers and rightly subject to different treatment; and their housing is rightly a removable societal commodity not a family home in contrast to the firmer rights and family homes of the owner occupiers.

The people involved in the disturbances should be punished, effectively and proportionately, by the courts. Eviction would be a second punishment; for the innocent family members it would be unjust; for all of them it is likely to be damaging.

I do understand that where life for neighbours is made miserable by persistent anti-social behaviour, eviction may be necessary.