Press Release from Nottingham Defence Campaign
PROTEST AGAINST ATOS & POLICE REPRESSION IN HOCKLEY
Activists have called to a protest against the conduct of Atos ‘Healthcare’ and what they describe as ‘police repression’ coming Friday (3rd February 2012).
In September 2011, two Nottingham residents, a retired paediatric nurse and a wheelchair user were arrested following a peaceful protest at the local offices of Atos ‘Healthcare’. Faced with an impressive solidarity campaign and apparently worried that their case had no chance of holding up in court, the CPS and Atos backed down. The charges of aggravated trespass were dropped.
The case of the ‘Atos Two’ was followed by arrests of Notts Uncut activists just before Christmas and the confiscation of a photography student’s tapes after he filmed an arrest.
Supporters of the arrestees have described these events as worrying signs that the local force is changing its attitude towards peaceful protesters. This seems to have been confirmed by a police officers’ remark who commented on the arrest of the ‘Atos Two’ by stating that there “had been too much of this sort of thing and we were told to crack down on it”.
Jamie Kennedy from the Nottingham Defense Campaign said: “The police have wasted time and resources on ridiculous charges. Meanwhile, Atos’ biased and abusive conduct against benefit claimants remains unchanged. They might have backed off from going after the Atos Two but we will certainly not let them off the hook!”
Protesters will gather on Friday 3rd February 2012 from 12.30pm at the junction of Carlton Street and Heathcote Street, Hockley, Nottingham; see http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2335
Notes for editors
1) Regarding the original protest against Atos see: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2053
2) Regarding the charges against the ‘Atos Two’ see: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2168
3) Regarding the solidarity campaign for the ‘Atos Two’ see: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2207
4) Regarding the arrests of Notts Uncut activists see: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2276
5) Regarding the harassment of student photographer see: http://nottingham.indymedia.org.uk/articles/2238
6) A Statement of Support for the Atos Two has been signed by more than a hundred persons and organisations, including Welfare Rights Groups, Councillors and John McDonnell MP: http://nottingham.indymedia.org/articles/2195
7) Atos Healthcare was selected by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to administer the Work Capability Assessments (WCA).
Campaigners claim that WCA are part of a deliberate policy by the coalition government designed to force as many people as possible off disability benefits regardless of their physical and/or psychological abilities.
Critics of Atos Healthcare point to the high number of successful appeals against decisions by the company. A report by BBC Inside Out East found that more than one third of appeals were successful: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-15681502
Furthermore the expertise and conduct of the so called ‘healthcare professionals’ undertaking the assessments has been severely questioned by campaigners. In August it emerged that twelve doctors employed by the company were being investigated by the General Medical Council over allegations of improper conduct: http://gu.com/p/3x7jd