'Occupy' evictions a success for Shergroup

surveyorThe latter part of 2011 saw several 'Occupy' Protests springing up at various locations. Although they initially sprung up mainly in the United States - those in cities such as New York and Oakland being particularly prominent and in the news - the phenomenon soon spread to this side of the Atlantic and a number of similar protests began to emerge in the UK.

Obviously the most high profile site in the UK was the one established outside St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London, but a number of other cities also saw camps springing up too.

One of these was in Bradford, where a number of protesters set up their tents and created a camp in Centenary Square in the centre of the city.

Initially these protesters were tolerated by locals and the powers that be in Bradford, but after a few days it became apparent that the protesters were not going to move of their own free will - even after being served with court notices to do so - and that action would have to be taken to remove the protesters and their tents and other equipment from the site.

Time was of the essence. At the time we were approached by Bradford Council, events were planned in the Square for the following weekend and the Square was also due to host the city's Remembrance Day parades the weekend after that. There was considerable concern that allowing any of the events to be disrupted by the presence of the protesters may lead to outbreaks of trouble.

Having received the call from Bradford Council, Shergroup swung into action, and within 2 hours we had an officer on the scene to do a risk assessment of the situation and start planning the operation. The following morning we had a team of 7 operatives in place awaiting instructions to move in. There was some voluntary movement out of the Square by some of the protesters, not least because of the foul weather that moved in on the day of the eviction. There were also some last minute discussions between the occupiers and the council - including an attempt to get the court order stayed - but to no avail. The eviction went ahead. But it had to be conducted with tact and diplomacy, due to the fact that the protest was taking place within sight of the local BBC studios and had also attracted a certain amount of coverage in the local press. On no account was anything to happen that could bring the council or Shergroup into disrepute.

The result? Within 8 hours the court order had been enforced in a textbook fashion, the Square was cleared and all tents and debris removed. The arranged events in the Square could go ahead as planned.

Another success for Shergroup - and a very happy client who provided a glowing testimonial with regard to the work we had carried out on the council's behalf, as well as letting a host of other councils know that if they had any similar problems in the future, Shergroup was the organisation to turn to for help.

This testimonial didn't take long to have the hoped for effect, as not long afterwards we were contacted by another victim of 'Occupy' protests - this time in Plymouth - with a view to enforcing the necessary court order and evicting protesters who had occupied a former Job Centre in the city. The 'Occupy Plymouth' protesters had previously been based in an open space known as the Jigsaw Garden, outside the main Drake Circus shopping centre, but had moved on from there into the empty Job Centre when the worst of the December weather began to hit.

Having found that protesters had moved into the job centre, the owners of the property concerned, Telereal Trillium, quickly obtained a court order for their eviction and contacted Shergroup with regard to arranging the removal of the occupants. A team of officers and security personnel was assembled and despatched to Plymouth in readiness for an early morning eviction one day in the run up to Christmas. When the time came for the eviction, the officers had an unexpected but not unwelcome surprise - the protesters' look-out man had fallen asleep on the job!! By the time he and his colleagues woke up, entry had been effected and the job was completed swiftly and successfully - another cracking result for Shergroup.

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