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[kraken] "Squatters find police station is good home without any charges"

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Datum: 23 mrt 2005 15:30 uur

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Squatters find police station is good home without any charges

By Sean O’Neill and Nicola Woolcock

IN ITS heyday, Arbour Square police station in Stepney held its share of
notorious and hardened criminals including the Kray brothers and alleged
IRA terrorists.

But the imposing red-brick building with attached courthouse has
recently acquired an altogether different, some would say more anarchic,
type of occupant — squatters who have moved in and made themselves
comfortably at home.

A skull and crossbones flag has replaced the Union Jack and flutters at
half-mast over the disused building in Lodon’s East End while a
Crimestoppers sticker remains in one of its windows. The police, who are
powerless to evict squatters by force, are in the embarrassing position
of having to take legal action to regain possession of what was their
own building. The former home of law and justice had gone the way of
many police stations, closing some years ago. It was recently sold at
auction and contracts are due to be exchanged with the new owners who,
it is thought, will convert it into luxury flats.

But the three-storey property has proved so popular with its current
residents that they have put up a sign saying: “We are filled, there are
no more spaces for people to live”.

Police believe that the occupants are members of a network of
“professional” squatters, who know their rights, have lawyers and mobile
phones and organise music and art events.

A legal notice taken from Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act has been
posted on the front door. It advises that entry without the squatters’
permission is a criminal offence and that “we will prosecute” anyone
attempting to enter by violence.

“If you want to get us out you will have to take out a summons for
possession in the county court or in the High Court, or produce to us a
written statement or certificate in terms of S.12A Criminal Law Act,
1977,” it adds.

A moss-covered Royal Coat of Arms is engraved above the building’s main
door and a sign that gives the station’s opening hours remains in place,
even though it shut in 1999. Most windows are covered with chipboard or
corrugated metal sheets.

More than 20 people are living in the property, including a teaching
assistant and a Polish couple.

They have hooked up lights and heaters to a mains electricity supply and
are said to sleep in one part of the half-acre development while holding
parties in the other.

A Metropolitan Police source said: “We will be seeking an injunction
because obviously the new owners will want to have vacant possession.

“It is all very embarrassing because they are probably using the old
police showers and cooking in the police canteen.”

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ontvangsttijd Wed Mar 23 14:30:17 2005


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