Police arrest six people at three Hove squat raids
Hove area were raided in a joint operation by the London Metropolitan Police and Sussex Police in the morning of Wednesday 27 April.
The warrant, issued by the Bromley Court shown at the Sackville Road squat, stated that the objective of the operation was to find someone.
At the property, four were taken into the Custody Centre in Hollingbury on the grounds of theft.
After thoroughly but “peacefully” searching the property and the occupiers’ belongings, the police found that the residents had been abstracting electricity and called an EDF specialist who confirmed the fraud.
“It was very unexpected, but the police was cordial and let us pack up our things before we were taken into custody. They didn’t find anything as there was nothing to find, it was a dry squat, no drugs, no drinking”, said one of the girls.
The squatters had already received an eviction notice, but had lost their court case and were moving out soon.
They were released after being held for eight hours and no one to interview them.
They were warned not to go back to the Sackville property or they could be arrested for criminal damage.
Another girl arrested at Sackville said: “I was tired and angry at the end of the day. They took us and didn’t even question us.
“They didn’t have evidence and it seems to me that they pretended to be looking for someone just to have an excuse to kick us out, illegally!”
According to Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1997, unpermitted entry into an occupied house “is a criminal offence […] as any attempt to enter by violence or by threatening violence.”
“They are probably afraid of what’s happening around the country, in London and Bristol, and they want to know and have on record anyone living in squats. They took our DNA!”, she continued.
Recently, Mike Weatherley, Conservative MP for Hove, has presented a petition to Downing Street to criminalise “squatting”.
At present, squatting is unlawful, but not criminal.
According to one of the squatters present at the time in Westbourne Villas, the London Metropolitan Police “burst-in” and welcomed them with “riot shields at the bottom of the stairs”.
Unlike what happened at Sackville, while the authorities were searching the property at Westbourne Villas they collected lapt
ops or anything that could contain information and allegedly vandalised a few items in the house, including breaking the strings of a £2,000 guitar that belongs to one of the squatters and busker living in Westbourne Villas.
He said: “That was petty vandalism. They deprived people of a place to live and their possessions, which are still there.”
According to the residents, the police waited around for Sitex, a security provider for empty properties.
“What was a man-hunt ended up being an eviction”, one said.
At this property one was arrested and another person was cautioned for possession of weed.
A third one was arrested by the Metropolitan Police and taken to London to be questioned in relation with the TUC protest at the end of March and with the black bloc group, a tactic used in demonstrations where protesters dress in black and cover their faces.
He was released on bail and warned to stay away from London during the Royal Wedding weekend.
The TUC march in London on 26 March joined by over 250,000 people, organisers said and went on without any incidents, except for a separate group where individuals were hiding their faces and who attacked shops and clashed with the police.
The raids and arrests appear in connection with anticipated protests against the Royal Wedding and planned May Day demonstrations.
On Thursday 28 April the Sussex Police broadcasted an appeal to the protesters to let them know of their whereabouts and plans for the May Day demonstrations in Brighton.
The police is collecting evidence relating to the four arrested on the allegations of abstracting electricity.
They will be heard on the 21 May.