Breakdown of raids statistics by London boroughs

Up until now, it has been difficult to get a precise picture of the frequency of immigration raids across London. A previous FOI request found that an average of 33 enforcement ‘visits’ took place across London each week, but visits could also mean intelligence gathering trips as well as raids.

Now, journalist Philip Kleinfeld has obtained information via Freedom of Information Act requests that provides more detail on the frequency and location of raids in London. He found that:

  • There were 19,853 raids — almost 11 a day — from 2010 to 2015.
  • The number of raids has increased by 80% over the past five years.
  • Immigration raids in London peaked in 2014 with 4,703 raids, up from 2,531 in 2010. In 2015 the number dropped by around 3% to 4,573 .
  • The areas of London targeted the most are E15 (1,396 raids – Stratford, West Ham, Leyton, Hackney Wick), E6 (776 raids – East Ham, Upton Park, Barking, Beckton), E7 (637 raids – Forest Gate, Stratford, Leytonstone), SE1 (554 raids – parts of Lambeth and Southwark) and SE18 (540 raids – Woolwich & Plumstead).

He said, ‘The Home Office failed to disclose how many raids have been disrupted since 2010 but a representative from the Immigration Services Union told BBC’s File on 4 last year “that immigration enforcement jobs are disrupted to a greater or lesser extent pretty much every week.”

Activist groups have consistently criticised the impact immigration raids have on migrant communities across the capital. In its Statement of Principles the Anti-Raids Network says: “Immigration checks and raids on our homes, streets, communities and workplaces are violent attacks on us by the racist state. They can have extreme consequences, including lengthy periods of detention, deportation and, in some cases, death. Raids and checks need to be opposed wherever and however we can.”

It is notable that the number of raids dropped in a year that saw an increase in acts of resistance, from Peckham to Walworth, to Shadwell to New Cross, to the countless unreported acts of individual defiance. From five raids on East Street in the week leading up to the mass resistance of 21st June, to none at all on that street for the rest of the year and since.

Direct action works. Keep up the fight!

Breakdown of visits by boroughs:

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Building an anti-fascist culture post-Brexit


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This text was written by some people involved in the Anti Raids Network – it doesn’t represent the position of the whole network.

A vast amount has already been said about ‘Brexit’ and the general  climate of nationalism and xenophobia in which the vote took place.  We want to concentrate on where we can go from here. Between rising  fascism on the one hand, and despair on the other, we think  it’s essential we build a culture of anti-fascism based on solidarity and autonomy. Solidarity here means taking action to  support each other against those who seek to impose their  authoritarian and racist ideal of a uniform society. Autonomy means unlearning our habit of looking to leaders for solutions, and taking the initiative to organise for ourselves.

For our anti-fascism to be meaningful and effective, we feel that it  should follow a few basic principles:

It should be decentralised & grassroots

Rather than searching for the next political party/saviour  figure/controlling coalition to dictate our direction and tactics,  now really is the time for each of us who identify with anti-fascist  position have the courage and commitment to take the initiative.  Seek out and get involved in local groups, or better still, start your own*. Our groups and actions should multiply, not  massify, and with this carry the crucial idea that anyone can be part of this struggle.

It should target all forms of nationalism & xenophobia – from the  street to the state

We need to think creatively about how to effectively counter  nationalist groups taking to the streets, but it is critical that we do not neglect the ‘respectable’ xenophobia of the suit-wearing demagogues in power and those who carry out their commands. Both these groups reinforce one another, with politicians normalising such practices as deadly border controls and the daily round-up of migrants from our neighbourhoods, while street groups and keyboard warriors garner citizen-support for these right wing agendas and demand that they be taken to more extreme levels.

It should be braver

Too often, we respond to the latest oppressive state action or  policy by seeking the validation of our friends and comfortable  social media ‘scene’, rather than taking action. Instead of seeking  solace from Twitter,  why not go out and put up some posters? We  also need to challenge ourselves to get out of our comfort zones,  and not leave risky actions to some mythical ‘others’, who have no responsibilities or cause to fear repression. Of course, there are  some who face more severe reprisals due to issues such as their  immigration status, race or class – but anti-fascism wouldn’t be called a struggle if it didn’t carry any risk. When the time comes  to hold the line, we need to be there for each other.

It should be creative

At the same time, conflict cannot be sustained without a broader culture to nourish it. This struggle is not simply about the  defeat of an authoritarian ideology; we also have to show an  alternative form of power – the power of solidarity and real community. Our culture should carry the seeds of a new society,  another way of life, and not be purely orientated towards what we  oppose.

It should be multiform

…postering, organising cultural events, blocking immigration vans,  leafletting, graffiti, running DIY martial arts clubs, neutralising nazis on the streets, sabotaging deportation attempts, giving  workshops and skillshares, supporting resistance in detention,  running regular stalls, making anti-fascist art and music,  mobilising against evictions, taking direct action against the peddlers of nationalism and bigotry…… building an anti-fascist culture takes these forms and many more. We should recognise the value of all these actions and encourage & support different  people’s contributions according to their interest and skills.

These are just a few possible guidelines for what we hope will be a  fiery, emancipatory, and truly grassroots resistance that can be our  only response to the shackles of nationalism, borders, and state control.

*If you would like to act against immigration raids in London, check out our statement of principles and feel free to visit your nearest anti raids stall (times correct at the time of writing):

See here for more ideas for what you can do to fight the raids.

New Anti Raids Group in Whitechapel

Following the weekly Saturday stalls in Peckham and Deptford, a group in Whitechapel has started a similar initiative

The border regime manifests itself in our everyday lives. Home Office “Immigration Enforcement” teams – working hand-in-hand with the police and local authorities – attack us on our streets, in our homes and workplaces.

Whitechapel – and Tower Hamlets more generally – is one of London’s most racially diverse areas, with large Bangladeshi and Somali communities. This working-class neighbourhood has not escaped the growing wave of racist state repression and fascist activity. Over the past few years, Whitechapel High Street has counted among the growing list of places  systematically targeted by UKBA and police operations – as well as recent “flash-mobs” by far-right bully-boys Britain First.

At the same time, Whitechapel is on the front-lines of social cleansing in London. Property developers and landlords are fast making the area into another yuppified wasteland. Immigration raids have served in parallel to gentrifying forces, damaging and undermining the local economic base of Black and Asian working-class communities.

Against this backdrop, we have come together to form Whitechapel Anti-Raids. Over the past few weeks we have been busy leafleting the shops and market stalls in Whitechapel. The first of weekly Saturday stalls was set-up last weekend at Whitechapel market –  with multilingual bust cards and information about immigration raids, worker’s and housing rights. The response has been overwhelmingly positive; many individuals, workers and small business owners have welcomed the initiative. In conversation, many expressed their frustration and anger at the racist targeting of their shops and community.

We aim to promote a culture of neighbourhood self-organisation, solidarity and collective self-defence against all forms of state repression and racism. We don’t want to reform immigration enforcement, but to resist and eventually end it. For every raid and fascist “flash-mob”, we need a response.

To get involved contact us at whitechapelantiraids@riseup.net or pop down to our weekly Saturday stall (2-4pm) in Whitechapel Market.

Racist vans Go Home!

Whitechapel Anti-Raids

References:
Britain First
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3534065/Far-right-protester-caught-camera-felled-flying-kick-mob-provoked-Muslims-east-London-mosque.html

Raids per day

https://network23.org/antiraids/2015/05/21/countering-camerons-call-on-immigration/

Anti Raids Network

https://network23.org/antiraids/

Raids in whitechapel

http://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk/news/crime-court/around_140_police_carrying_out_raids_in_whitechapel_market_1_2926765

http://www.eastlondonadvertiser.co.uk/news/crime-court/three_illegal_immigrants_arrested_in_raid_on_whitechapel_clothes_shop_1_1967909

“We will fight back!” Posters up in Deptford after raid resistance

deptford-posterFrom Rabble LDN website.

On Monday (13 June) people chased off an immigration raid targeting shopworkers on Deptford High Street, and refurbished a van left behind by Immigration Enforcement cops as they fled the scene. The next night, posters went up all along Deptford High Street to spread word of what had happened. It’s important to stay vigilant. It’s possible the resistance has warned off the raiders for a while: after last summer’s resistance on East Street market there were no more visits for at least a year. But this certainly can’t be taken for granted, they may be back any day for revenge.

The poster reads:

“Immigration Enforcement” (UKBA) bullies have been spotted all last week around Deptford High Street, harassing locals. On Monday they came to raid workers and were chased away.

Migrants welcome in our neighbourhood. Cops, bailiffs, UKBA, property developers not welcome at all! We will fight back!

network23.org/antiraids”

Immigration raid chased off on Deptford High St, “racist van” trashed

deptford-van-1

deptford-van-2

From Rabble LDN website.

On Monday afternoon the neighbourhood of Deptford, South East London, chased away a Home Office “Immigration Enforcement” raid team. The Home Office bullyboys had reportedly been spotted several times in the previous week doing so-called “intelligence gathering”. I.e., trying to harass shopkeepers into giving them permission to carry out “operations” in their premises so they don’t have to go to the hassle of getting a court warrant. On Monday they came back in greater force, but people gathered and sent them away empty handed. They drove off in several unmarked cars but abandoned their marked “racist van” in a back street, which was then refurbished with the windows smashed and messages written in spray paint (see pictures).

Deptford market is a regular target for Home Office raids, often working in conjunction with police, the local council and other agencies. The most recent major raid was in April. As with other London street markets (such as East Street), there are clear links between these attacks targeting migrants and wider attacks on the neighbourhood, as property developers and state authorities combine to “socially cleanse” the area, and clearing out those they consider undesirable. But resistance is growing. In Deptford, there is now a regular “Deptford Anti Raids” information stall every Saturday in the market, and Monday shows that people are ready to fight back.

Check the AntiRaids twitter account for raid alerts and other live updates.

Nights against Borders 2: Fighting raids on the streets of London

From Rabble LDN website

Nights Against Borders in South London

Night #2: Fighting immigration raids on the streets of London

Sunday 15 May, 6 -11 PM @ The Field, New Cross. 385 Queens Road SE14 5HD.

The war against the borders is not just at the frontiers of Brenner, Idomeni or Calais, but also in our own neighbourhoods. Home Office “Immigration Enforcement Teams” attack our homes, shops and streets every day (an average of 33 ‘visits’ per day across London), often working hand in hand with police, local authorities and property developers as part of the Social Cleansing of London. But their attacks are not going unopposed. In East Street (Elephant & Castle), Peckham, Shadwell, and many more areas, people have stopped arrests, chased away Home Office bullies, blocked and sabotaged the “racist vans”. Local groups and the London-wide Anti Raids Network are helping spread ideas about how to fight.

In this second South London Night Against Borders, we will hear accounts from the fight against raids, and discuss how we can grow our resistance. Once again, there will also be (vegan) food and refreshments, music, and spaces to talk and meet each other.

Download & print the poster below.

POSTERNAG2

Immigration Raids in Deptford

On Thursday 21st April, 3 Immigration Enforcement vans (one unmarked) arrived in Deptford around 9am. They raided numerous shops, handcuffing and arresting 6 people from three of these businesses. The raids continued until around midday. Raids frequently occur on the High Street, but they often strike very early in the morning and rarely are they so protracted as they were on Thursday.

The immigration officers wore plain clothes to avoid alerting people to their presence. They were also supported by police community support officers (PCSOs), who had clearly been gathering intelligence to help immigration officers identify people who were working in the shops. PCSOs attempt to present the ‘friendly face’ of policing, using this persona to engage people in conversation and gather intelligence for officers to act on at a later date.

A handful of locals gathered and shouted at the officers, rightly accusing them of racism, while others tried to physically block the vans, delaying their departure for some time, but more people need to show solidarity if we are to kick the ‘racist vans’ out of Deptford for good!

People from Deptford Anti Raids – who run a stall every weekend on the market – have since been out on the High Street, leafleting from shop to shop and inviting shopkeepers and residents to a public meeting on the square.

Plainclothes immigration officers with migrants in handcuffs
Plainclothes immigration officers with migrants in handcuffs
This immigration officer spent a lot of time scratching his chin
This immigration officer spent a lot of time scratching his chin
Unmarked vehicle used to take people away
Unmarked vehicle used to take people away

‘Expand your range of targets’, says chief inspector in review of illegal working raids

 

‘How the Home Office Tackles Illegal Working’ was published on 17th December by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI), David Bolt. ICIBI reports generally provide useful insight into the murky world of immigration enforcement.

Here are some of the report’s main findings and criticisms:

  • Criticism was leveled at the disproportionate number of raids targeting takeaways and restaurants, due to the fact that most of the ‘intelligence’ consisted of ‘low-level allegations made by members of the public, which were lacking in detail and the reliability of which was difficult to assess.’ It said that ‘other business sectors and possibly other nationalities had been neglected by comparison.’ The Home Office responded that it was trying to ‘diversify’ its range of targets through its current project, ‘Operation Magnify’. They list care, cleaning and construction as possible sites of increased immigration enforcement in the near future.
  • Bolt and his team show themselves to be big fans of the softly-softly tactics employed in ‘Operation Skybreaker’, mostly on grounds of cost effectiveness. Skybreaker was a six-month operation running from July-Dec 2014, which saw immigration officers visit businesses ‘consensually’ with a view to gathering intelligence, getting employers involved in the web of immigration control and reporting, and trying to persuade people to leave ‘voluntarily’ (ie, with financial incentives). Obvious benefits of Skybreaker lay in its friendly veneer and the fact that these visits essentially acted as reccies, allowing officers to gather information necessary to conduct full blown raids later on. Our suspicion about this was confirmed by the report. Bolt calls for the extension of Skybreaker tactics, so we can expect more of this in the year to come.
  • The report details various unlawful practices by Immigration Enforcement. None of these come as any surprise given the experiences we hear from people affected by raids. The allegations of unlawful conduct include:

– coercive tactics used to question whole groups people (who are meant to be questioned ‘consensually’, and where specific individuals are suspected of being immigration offenders);

– unlawful pursuits off the premises, which the Home Office acknowledged it had done, but said it was ‘reviewing’ its pursuit policy anyway. Yep, when you’re accused of acting illegally, just change the law;

– ‘consent’ to enter a property obtained by the occupier through ‘verbal authority’ rather than written agreement. In its response, the Home Office also said that it was completely reviewing its enforcement guidance, and expected to complete this task by March 2016.

Other interesting info revealed in the report

So-called AD letters (Home Office Assistant Director internal authorisation) now appear to be a much less common means of obtaining entry to businesses. This comes after a telling-off by ICIBI in a previous report. Officers are currently relying primarily on the ‘consent’ of the occupier to gain entry (in well over 50% of cases), or on magistrates’ warrants. Consent is required in writing but evidence showed IE were relying on ‘verbal authority’.

The report found that from 2009-2014, on average, 68% of raids for illegal working result in no illegal workers being found. In these same raids, 50% of arrestees ended up being deported.

Our position

We do not want to see a reformed system of immigration enforcement; we want to see its end. This can only be achieved by building a culture of refusal to collaborate and cooperate with Immigration Enforcement, and of active solidarity with those being arrested when raids are taking place.