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Squat raid standoff in Brighton's London Road
This live event has finished
- Police raided squat in Brighton's London Road after complaints from owners of flat above empty shop
- Two squatters were in roof standoff as crowds gather in support. Three inside superglued themselves to each other round a joist
- After eight hours, three arrests were made.
- Raid is believed to be the UK's first under new legislation criminalising squatting in residential buildings.
Sussex Police have released a statement with the latest update on the squatters arrested and the other two last seen on the roof of the property.
It said: "Three men have been arrested under the new squatting legislation.
"Police were called to a residential property in London Road, Brighton today, (3 September) and after several hours two 22-year-olds and a 29-year-old were taken into custody.
"Two other men, who were on the roof of the building, safely made their way down from the property and were not arrested.
"The property is now being boarded up by the landlord's agent."
This live blog is now ending but you can read a full account of today's drama in the Argus tomorrow.
Reports water and gas have been cut off to premises #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
There has been some discussion about whether the property being squatted is covered by the legislation, as both an empty shop and the residential flat above it are being occupied.
The Argus undertstands that there is no shared access between the commercial ground floor property and the residential flat above. Police are raiding the residential part of the building.
All action inside the property making updates hard. Pair are still on roof but rumours superglue squatters to b arrested soon. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
Cops seem to be cutting their way out the windows to try and get on the roof. #squatraid— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Cops say the people to get the superglue off are here now. #squatraid #— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Here is another attempt at that picture of superglued hands http://t.co/v9y3dv9n #brighton #squatraid— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
A statement from Sussex Police - highlights are:
- Owners reported the squatters this morning.
- Five people were at the property, two on the roof, and three superglued to each other inside.
- The squatters remain inside, and police are playing a "waiting game"
- Once out, police intend on arresting those currently inside
The statement in full:
Police responding to reports of illegal squatting in a residential property in Brighton have entered the building.
Officers were asked to assist with trespassers in a building in London Road by representatives of the owners at 11.17am on Monday (September 3). The occupants of the residential area were given a deadline to vacate the premises at 1.50pm by the owner and when that was not met, officers entered the building, dismantling substantial barricading in order to do so.
Inside, they found five people, two of whom had taken to the roof and three who had super-glued themselves together around a joist in the loft.
Inspector Bill Whitehead said: "The nature of the barricade has made their intentions to reside quite clear. We are now inside the residential area of the building that has been occupied and are seeking to resolve the situation as swiftly and as safely as possible. We are prepared to play the waiting game, but When we are able to remove them, they will be arrested under the new legislation."
Great to see police enforcing new anti-squatting law in Brighton. Hope squatters will soon be turfed out up and down the country! #squatraid— @robbuckwell 03 September 2012
Judging by the increased singing it sounds like the people on the roof have got their irnbru :-) #squatraid #dubstepontheroof— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Amazing irish rebel songs being sung from the roof. #squatraid #brighton #squatting— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Sad that Brighton has first UK eviction under new squatting laws. A clumsy law for a rather more complex issue #squatraid— @BomTailey 03 September 2012
4:03pm Mon 3 Sep 12
Best of luck to the squatters - a bad unecessary law like this one should be defied.
Peter took this video footage of supporters outside the raid earlier this afternoon:
From Peter - the barricade instructions found inside the squat:
Fully behind @sussex_police who are currently trying to evict squatters from London Road using the new anti-squatting law. #SquatRaid— @mike_weatherley 03 September 2012
Officer guarding door in good spirits considering he must be very warm in uniform in sun. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
3:49pm Mon 3 Sep 12
The Cowley Club is just along the road - can't some nice socialists put them up for a few nights?
Instructions on how to barricade door in squat. Explains why took so long for police to break down #squatraid #beprepared— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
Hove MP Mike Weatherley has issued a press release about the raid, which he describes as the UK's first.
He said: “I’m fully behind Sussex Police taking this swift action to enforce these new powers. Squatters knew that their anti-social actions would face consequences from 1st September, so it is welcome news the new law is being enforced.
"I have been campaigning since my election to Parliament to have squatting criminalised, so it is encouraging to see justice finally served.”
Squatter asks for an Irn Bru from roof #squatraid #squatterdrinkofchoice— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
Cops say they have the stuff to get us unsuperglued but they are not using it for some reason. #squatting #squatraid #brighton— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
"It's all gone very quiet outside the flat. The supporters are all currently sitting outside eating ice lollies while the action is believed to be happening inside the attic."
He added he doesn't know how the pair on the roof, who are both wearing black, are coping with the heat.
Squatters have superglued themselves together in the loft. Police are deciding what to do. #brighton #squatting— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Crowds have dwindled as excitement of door breaking over. Just supporters and a few others left. Maybe 20 in total #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
Finally cops seem to have realised thee are people in the attic! #brighton #squatting— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Apologies to readers - we have made one of those of those blunders common when reporting breaking news. We are now fairly sure one of the "men" on the roof is, in fact, a woman.
Peter has been talking to one of the supporters witnessing the raid.
Bill Cobbet, 29, said: "They are living in the commercial part of the property which is not a criminal offence.
"We are here because we support the rights of homeless people to house themselves. It is a bad law which has been rushed through.
"It is making a lot of people criminals who are trying to house themselves."
@TomBrownie7 @bypeterbrighton doesn't look like it will stop any time soon. Problem is very hard to get ppl on roof off it. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
The Squatters Network of Brighton has been very active in the city in recent months.
In May, they took over the London Road Co-op in preparation for an "international squatting convergence" involving activists from the UK and France in protest at the new laws.
Cops through the stairs barricade eventually. #brighton # squatting— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Squatters still on roof. Not sure how police can get them down. It's all gone a bit quiet with officers inside. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
The two men are still on top of the roof:
@bypeterbrighton Yeah - London Road nothing short of idyllic if it wasn't for that pesky squat #squatraid— @BomTailey 03 September 2012
Second dour didn't take that long. will be interesting to see how they get through the barricade on the stairs... #brighton #squatting— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Items being taken out of squat including drill and backgammon and a well as mattress and tv. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
Edward bahshaw, mgr at Kodak express opposite, says squat makes road look bad. Pleased at eviction. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
But protests so far have been peaceful. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
Door finally breached. Officers about to enter premises. #squatraid— @bypeterbrighton 03 September 2012
Police are through through front door. It's still going to take them a long long time! #brighton #squatting— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Eviction team at the front door with a battering ram still not through the front door. Have they given up? #brighton #squatting— @SNOBaha 03 September 2012
Picture from Peter:
More from Peter:
Officers in full riot gear are now breaking down the door using a battering ram. Two officers are attacking the door, and another 10 officers are keeping guard outside, accompanied by the dog unit.
As officers approached, supporters gathered outside started singing The Imperial March from Star Wars
The door has still not broken down, leading to suspicions it has been reinforced from inside.
Sussex Police have confirmed they are acting in accordance with the new legislation. In a statement, they said: “We are aware of the situation and we are assessing what to do in line with the new legislation.
“We had a call from a resident this morning who complained of squatters in the property so we are responding.”
Last week, as the law came into force, Mr Weatherley urged members of the public to call the police to report squatters .
However, the laws have come up against considerable local opposition. In April, dozens of Brighton protesters opposed the ban .
More from Peter:
Police officers have started to bang on the door of the squat, which is above empty lighting shop Light Setting, saying "Please come out."
One police officer has a video camera and is filming proceedings.
The police have also gone into estate agents Barrie Alderton next door to the lighting shop and are now on the roof of the estate agents, talking to the squatters.
One of the squatters is in the window of the lighting shop taking pictures of the police. It is understood that the squatters are also in the residential part of the empty building.
The new law, which came into force last week, makes squatting residential properties a criminal offence. Previously, it was a civil offence. It follows a campaign by Hove MP Mike Weatherley .
Police are in London Road, Brighton, this lunchtime preparing to raid a squat in what is believed to be the first such action under new anti-squatting laws.
Reporter Peter Truman is at the scene. He said: "There are two guys standing on top of the roof of the squat, which is in a flat behind London Road shops in Rosehill Terrace.
There's a banner saying "Queer squatters say no ban."
"A group of about 15-20 people have gathered outside the squat in support of the protest.
"The two people on top of the roof are wearing facemasks - one is wearing a hood, the other a cowboy hat
"Police standing outside the entrance of the squat. One is stood outside the shopdoor and one outside the door which leads from the street to the flat.
"There are two police cars and two police vans. Police are donning protective gear."