CAIN: Issues: Housing - Intimidation in Housing by John Darby (1974) - Chapter 14

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Intimidation in Housing
by John Darby (1974)

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Text: John Darby ... Page Compiled: Fionnuala McKenna
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Chapter 14


Given that the evidence at our disposal shows clearly that (a) intimidation is increasing, and (b) that the resources available to intimidated families are inadequate we urge most strongly that the problem should be reviewed by the administration as a matter of urgency, and that the following recommendations should be considered.

1. We recommend the establishment of a small experimental anti-intimidation centres in areas where intimidation is present or where it is thought to be a risk. These centres should bring together members of the local committees, with local police and army representatives. The centres should be manned 24 hours a day by local volunteers and should be in constant contact with families thought to be at risk. We believe that these centres would do much to allay fear in the areas concerned, since fear of intimidation is in itself a considerable cause of housing movement.
2. We recommend the strengthening of the police and the re-deployment of army personnel where possible to provide additional security in areas where intimidation is present or thought likely to occur. Consideration should be given to the establishment of a special Anti-intimidation unit.
3. We recommend that consideration be given to some experimental housing projects being established in one or more new housing estates which would be advertised as mixed religious areas. Those wishing to reside in these estates would be asked to sign a covenant agreeing to tolerate families professing other religions and mixed religion families. Such estates would need to have protection from (a) squatters and (b) from outside troublemakers.
It is also vital that people be encouraged to occupy houses which are at present empty in a number of estates. This might be done by rent reduction or other incentive schemes. But it is clear that the only way to attract families into some estates is to radically improve the standard of amenities and services - a sort of positive discrimination in favour of deprived areas.
4. We recommend the establishment of a special working party of representatives of the police, army, government and of the Community Relations Commission to investigate the law-and-order problems connected with intimidation and ways by which better protection might be given to intimidated families.
Since no policy is likely to have an immediate effect on intimidation, and since it is clear to us that the existing agencies with their current provisions cannot cope adequately with the present level of intimidation, we would make the following recommendations in this area.
5. We would stress the need for urgent action co-ordinate those functions of the agencies which are involved in dealing with the effects of intimidation. devise the most simple, speedy and effective way of dealing with the problems of individual intimidated families on the basis of their needs as a unit. This would involve the employment of case-workers whose tasks should include:
a. The provision of comfort and advice to intimidated families.
b. The assessment of their eligibility for placement on the Emergency Housing List.
c. Guidance of intimidated families through the agencies.
d. Liaison with local groups. collect information about the extent and patterns of intimidation and its effects on the community. conduct a massive information and propaganda campaign to inform the public of the implications of squatting and intimidation. find an agency other than the police which would assume the main responsibility for determining whether intimidation has taken place and whether particular cases should be added to the Emergency Housing List. provide support for local groups engaged in relief work. provide a body which would assume full relief powers in the event of the present emergency developing into a major crisis similar to August 1969 or August 1971.
6. We recommend that arrangements should be made by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to ensure that all families should be offered a house within a fortnight of being admitted to the Emergency Housing List.

7. Recommendation regarding squatting
a.We recommend that there should be an increase of security on new estates, especially in the latter stages of construction. in order to ensure that newly completed houses are fairly allocated, and are not taken over by squatters; consideration should be given to the stationing of security personnel on the estate during the danger period.
b.We recommend that the Housing Executive should deal directly with local residents groups, tenants associations and squatting committees, as housing authorities have done in London.

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