Update: charges against the Atos Two have been dropped.
On September 30th 2011, after an entirely peaceful demonstration at the offices of Atos “Healthcare” on Stoney Street in Nottingham’s Lace Market, two of the protesters were arrested.
The pair, one a retired paediatric nurse and the other a wheelchair user, were subsequently charged with aggravated trespass. Supporters have dubbed them the “Atos Two”.
Campaigners believe that the charges are politically motivated. This is a perspective reinforced endorsed by one of the arresting officer’s admission that “there’s been too much of this sort of thing going on and we’ve been told to clampdown.”
A thinly veiled reference to the wave of direct action by UK Uncut and others which has emerged in Nottingham and across the country over the last year.
The “Atos Two” appeared in court on Friday 25th November and pleaded not guilty. There was a sizeable solidarity demonstration outside.
Their trial was set for Monday 27th February. There will be another solidarity demonstration to coincide with this and a number of other events are planned.
Friday 3rd February: Demonstration in Nottingham against Atos, the attacks on the welfare system and the criminalisation of protests. Meet at the crossroads Carlton Street; Broad Street; Stoney Street (near Ice Nine), 12.30pm. The demo route will be fully accessible though slightly hilly (this is Nottingham after all). The route will be less than one kilometre.
Saturday 25th February: Meeting/workshops to be held in Nottingham on the weekend before the trial to discuss political policing as well as attacks on benefit claimants. Further details to be announced ASAP. (Postponed) Monday 27th February: Solidarity demonstration outside Nottingham Magistrates Court from 9am. (Cancelled)
Atos Healthcare, is part of IT giant Atos Origin and has been selected by the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) to administer the Work Capability Assessment, testing sick and disabled people who apply for benefit.
In November 2010, Harrington Report and the Work and Pensions Select Committee, found the Work Capability Assessment implemented by Atos Healthcare to be mechanistic and Atos’ “medical reports” far too often did not reflect circumstances and discussions that had taken place during the assessments (The Harrington Report, pp. 40-41).
A large number of those tested are told they are able to work, but more than a third have the decision overturned on appeal. Yet even those who win their appeals are dragged back within a few months for another test. Small wonder that some have decided to commit suicide rather than continually go through this cat and mouse process. Seriously ill and even dying people have been called for assessment, and the recommendations of family doctors and specialists are apparently ignored.
In addition, twelve doctors working for Atos face being struck off for improper conduct, and other members of Atos’ staff are under investigation over allegations of obscene criticism of benefit claimants.
Over time sick and disabled people and their supporters have grown more militant and more vocal in their condemnations of Atos. In return Atos threatened legal action against the Internet hosting companies of three websites – Carerwatch, After Atos and Atos Register of Shame, attempting to silence claimants and their small organisations who have had the courage to speak up.
- Atos Two Rebailed, 18/10/11
- ‘Atos Two’ Charged With Aggravated Trespass, 15/11/11
- Trial of Nottingham ‘Atos Two’ from February 27th 2012, 26/11/11
- The statement of support (to sign please email firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Atos Two case “discontinued”, 13/1/12
- Nottingham protest rattles Atos, 2/10/11
- Nottingham’s ‘Atos Two’ Charged, 16/11/11
- Solidarity with Nottingham’s ‘Atos Two’, 26/11/11
- Case against Nottingham’s ‘Atos Two ‘ dropped, 14/1/12
- Two charged after protest, 21/11/11
- Trespass charges dropped, 15/1/12