The work we do as High Court Certificated Enforcement Agents is rarely easy, but it is true that the difficulty varies from assignment to assignment.
That’s difficulty in terms of the planning and preparation, as well as difficulty in terms of the actual implementation of the necessary tasks.
Few assignments require more planning and preparation than large scale evictions, and our recent successful eviction of a huge number of squatters from three commercial buildings in Stretford, is a story worth retelling, as in the words of our CEO, Mr. Gareth Haggerty, it truly was, “one of our best ever jobs…”
The client contacted us having previously failed to evict over 40 squatters from three commercial buildings of differing sizes – a huge multi story warehouse, an Old Victorian building, and a separate, larger commercial unit.
Amidst all the chaos and confusion of the COVID-19 pandemic, the client had been unsure as to whether or not they could even serve eviction. Solicitor advice had only taken them so far, and the stress, impending financial implications and endless uncertainty had taken them to the edge of their patience.
County Court bailiffs had been unsuccessful in their attempt, despite a successful court judgment against the groups of squatters, and so the client called us, knowing that we have the capabilities and man power that would be needed to execute an operation of this scale.
We advised the client that the eviction could still go ahead, under ‘persons unknown’.
A little on the squatters…
They fell into 3 groups primarily, and whilst the needs and vulnerabilities of every single individual are of unique and paramount importance, we can talk about the groups collectively to give the story some context.
In one building, the Victorian building, there seemed to be a large gathering of drug users, evidenced by paraphernalia and made even more concerning by the presence of red lights and cameras.
We aren’t in a position to say for certain what was going on here, but the words ‘dark’ and ‘web’ come to mind.
The multi story building seemed to be a squat for couples and individuals, who didn’t have anywhere else to go, or who had chosen this lifestyle as a result of their own political motivations and personal agendas. It takes a whole lot of people to make a world, and we are never here to judge, just to do our jobs.
The final building of the three was the largest, and this looked to have been used as a venue for mass gatherings, raves and parties. The windows were smashed, the frame of the building was damaged, and there was rubbish and hazardous waste on a scale we haven’t seen before.
The people who frequented this part of the site were ‘hardcore’ squatters, and it seemed like they had certainly been having a ‘good’ time, if that’s how you want to look at it.
So, how did it all go down?
Well, after meticulous planning and preparation, during which time we liaised with police inspectors, various council representatives and of course, the client, we served notice and then arrived on site with a combined team of 25, made up from our #TeamCES Certificated Enforcement Agents and our partners at Exclusec.
We only work with the best in the security industry, those who we know, like and trust, and Exclusec are right up there at the top of our list.
25 bodies on the ground then…
All fully trained in COVID-19 regulations. All fully trained in Identifying Vulnerability.
All wearing full PPE. All wearing Halo Body Cams.
Tactical Aid Unit briefed and standing by, in case we needed assistance.
We also use drones which are used to over watch our movements so we can reflect on our actions in later our training rooms and to ensure the safety of our staff, those we are evicting and the general public.
And why would we have needed assistance?
Well, such evictions in the past have been met with aggression, anger and violence, and our Agents knew that the threat of harm was very real. ‘Booby trapping’ evictions like this is common, and we knew that we may be faced with things like ‘lock ins’, electrically charged door handles, barbed wire, hidden sharps or even human faeces and urine.
Yep, that’s what we have to expect with assignments like this. We plan for the worst, and hope for the best.
The relationships between our Agents is so strong though, that dynamic risk assessing on the ground, is so much more valuable to changing situations than any amount of prior paperwork. We are able to say so much with just a look.
It’s why we recruit from the Armed Forces, as a matter of fact, and jobs like this require military precision, clinical coolness, and a level of empathy and understanding that very few people are capable of.
Our Agents are more than capable of it.
We were refused entry and so had to enter the premises forcibly. At this point, it’s all about creating the illusion of chaos, to startle the squatters into action, even if they have been expecting us.
It can be loud and quick, but our implementation is exact, and we are always in control.
Throughout the ‘chaos’, there is always control.
We need to keep hold of that control from start to finish, and by splitting into three key teams, we were able to sweep for danger, look to eliminate any threat to life, and also to identify any children or vulnerable people who could have been present.
We’re not glorifying what we do, it’s our job, but the sheer size of this undertaking would be an incredibly difficult level on any video game!
With key roles and responsibilities, our teams set to work, securing building by building and establishing dialogue with the squatters.
As much as we were there to get them out, we were there to see what they needed, and to help point them in the direction of somewhere else to go. That’s why our colleagues from the council were present, to provide immediate alternative arrangements, with some of the evictees going straight from site to their new bed for the night. We don’t believe in solving one problem to just make another one further down the line, which is why it is so important for us that these people have somewhere to go.
Obviously, there were a number of people who refused this ‘help’ and went their own way after eviction, with threats and abuse thrown our way for good measure. That’s on them though, not us.
We quickly established a cool, composed and controlled environment, turning the chaos into calm, providing reassurance and a road map out of the situation and circumstances.
Over 40 knives and blades were recovered during our sweep for sharps. It’s frightening to think of what could have happened, had we not committed so much experience and expertise to the job.
The devil is always in the detail, and we take care of every single detail, every single time.
The eviction was successful. The client was delighted with the outcome. Fast. Effective. Firm but fair.
The council then set about their unenviable task of rehousing such a large number of people, and having had positive conversations with many of the squatters, it is our hope that they find somewhere more suitable, for the long term, very soon. We know that some already have.
We left the site in the capable hands of the guys at Clearway, who boarded up the entry points, made everything secure, and then patrolled with dog handler units long into the night, to guard against any attempted re-entries.
A job well done.
If you find yourself in need of a large scale eviction, similar to the one detailed here, and you either don’t know where to start, or aren’t getting anywhere along the routes you’ve currently explored, get in touch with the team at CES.
We know what we’re doing.
We have the man power, the experience and the expertise.
This is an assignment for a team, and there really is no team like #TeamCES.