Day of action against bullying by job centre staff and police


What do you do if you’re a Job Centre manager and a benefit claimant who’s ripe for sanction turns up with someone else as their “representative”?

If you’re in charge of Arbroath Job Centre, you have the man arrested, that’s what!

Yes, you read that correctly. Tony Cox, an activist with the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network, had accompanied a female claimant who suffers from severe dyxlexia and reading problems.

She was having several severe panic attacks every day, caused by the stress of filling five Universal Jobmatch applications every day. Cox was there to represent her.

The jobcentre refused to consider reducing the numbers of applications she should make, and insisted that signing up to UJM is compulsory. It is not. Officials objected to Cox’s presence, and he was arrested when he left the building.

He has been charged with “threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest”.

Imagine the consternation at Caxton House when news filtered through that this had happened. “What? The people are still sympathetic to the unemployed? What do we have to do? We’ve fed them a constant stream of anti-claimant propaganda via our newspapers, supplemented with nightly doses of My obese chainsmoking druggie criminal unemployed neighbour on Benefits Street takes home more money than I do on the telly! There’s nothing else for it – it’s time to open the brainwashing camps!”

Don’t think he wouldn’t, either.

Boycott Workfare wants us to get our retaliation in first – and has organised a day of action across the United Kingdom, to take place on Wednesday (February 25) – the same day Mr Cox will appear in court in Forfar to answer charges against him.

About those charges: ‘Threatening behaviour’ is a catch-all offence in the Public Order Act that is often used by police to cart off people who are a nuisance to authority figures. Back in October 2012, this blog quoted a speech by Rowan Atkinson, calling for its reform.

“I suspect [I am] highly unlikely to be arrested for whatever laws exist to contain free expression because of the undoubtedly privileged position that is afforded to those of a high public profile,” said Mr Atkinson.

“My concerns are… more for those who are more vulnerable because of their lower profile – like the man arrested in Oxford for calling a police horse ‘gay’.”

He said: “Even for actions that were withdrawn, people were arrested, questioned, taken to court… and then released. That isn’t a law working properly. That is censoriousness of the most intimidating kind, guaranteed to have… a ‘chilling effect’ on free expression and free protest.”

Well, this time it will have the opposite effect. People are red-hot with anger about this behaviour, arranged by cowards and bullies who think they can play God with people’s lives.

Boycott Workfare is urging everybody (who can manage it) “to descend on jobcentres round Britain to show their solidarity with Tony and distribute information to claimants urging them to exercise their right to be accompanied and represented at all benefits interviews”.

So, please, print up some literature and turn up outside your local jobcentre to make your feelings known.

Will you do that?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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  1. Rupert Mitchell (@rupert_rrl) February 22, 2015 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    I should like a definition of exactly what the DWP exists for please. Is it there to assist people in need or is it there to deprive people in need?

  2. Tony Dean February 22, 2015 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    I have several times in my life had to remind various government departments and also a tribunal, that is a basic human right and the law, that you can have “a friend” accompany you to ANY official interview, medical, disciplinary hearing, and similar.
    (That even applies to a police interview under caution with a few obvious and necessary restrictions.)

    I await the above case getting to court with interest.
    I find it odd that when I acted as a “friend,” for someone who needed to make a statement under caution at a police station. (Sub Judicae, they are the victim.)
    Not once did the police even ask who I was.
    Yet JobCentre Plus has gone off on one, when they are in the wrong.
    I have also represented a number of people at JobCentre Plus benefit applications and when people have been refused benefit and never once had a problem.
    (I have never lost either.)

  3. daijohn February 22, 2015 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    What status the citizens arrest – claimant on job centre staff given the accounts of what they get up to?

  4. casalealex February 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    If there are consequences to asserting your rights then you don’t really have rights. Through Skinner’s operant conditioning, we’ve learned to avoid these negative stimuli through compliance. What a cop is, is an agent of force, this is the only tool available to him so how can he be held accountable?

    The badge has become a shield, insulating the appointed defenders of the law from consequences. scrutiny or accountability to the lowly governed masses. It is a grant for special rights and privileges and any force used in its defence is justified and protected.

  5. jaypot2012 February 22, 2015 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    I’ll be going along to the Job centre in Arbroath as I live there.
    The people in that job centre are quite nice really, it’s the new overall boss – she’s an Esther McVey, except she’s Scottish!
    Wonder just how many people will turn up to protest at the job centres around the UK? Not many methinks as yet again, people are too bone idle and couldn’t give a toss about anything except themselves!
    The way things are going on, the way people are still sitting on their erses, I can visualize another Tory government in May!

  6. Jim Round February 22, 2015 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Should be interesting to see how many people turn up???

  7. nuggy February 22, 2015 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    how about he sues the job center for libel.

  8. Ian February 23, 2015 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    If three people turn up at my local Sanction Center just to protest (it likely won’t be as many as that), they will be ignored, but also how will they know they are there for the same thing? Must they ask total strangers why they are there to find each other?! It may be good to do so in order to connect with others, but would definitely require a confident person to talk to strangers, not the likely demoralised an depressed persona of those most affected by the sanctions.

    • Mike Sivier February 23, 2015 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      Perhaps you’ve never been to one of these events. People tend to be extremely well-organised, with placards to wave and leaflets to hand out to those going in – and yes, they do ask total strangers why they are there.

  9. Ian February 23, 2015 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    From what I have found, protest inside the Sanction Centre and the security personnel will force you outside, I find most who are outside are smoking and drinking and appear almost anti-social (they may be quite friendly), everyone else is either inside or getting away from the place as fast as possible.

    • Mike Sivier February 23, 2015 at 2:30 pm - Reply

      There’s no need to go inside.
      I suggest you go along to your nearest Job Centre Plus on Wednesday and see what transpires, rather than speculating about it negatively.

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