Police 'useless' as squatters move in to Bedminster property
A PROPERTY owner whose building has been besieged by squatters has branded police "useless" for failing to take action against them.
Dave Durant says there was clear evidence that squatters had broken into Granby House in St John's Road, Bedminster, on Wednesday afternoon and police could have made arrests.
But he says they declined to use their discretion or collect evidence, hiding behind their fear of squatters' rights.
Mr Durant, who has a planning application in to turn the building into flats and houses, is concerned that by letting the squatters stay, their lives are at risk as the building is currently under renovation and has no staircases.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
There is also a risk of exposed electrics as the building has been vandalised by thieves trying to steal copper.
The 59-year-old from Somerset says he is also concerned that he will be held responsible for any tragedy but feels that the police's failure to act should make them culpable as well.
But in a statement Avon and Somerset police say an investigation established there was no damage caused to the property and therefore the incident was a civil matter.
As a result of the incident Mr Durant has sent a letter of complaint to the chief constable criticising the actions of his police officers and outlining his concerns.
He told the Post: "Everybody knows the law is an ass when it comes to squatting.
"The police arrived and there was evidence of bolt croppers being used to gain entry. Police say there was no evidence of forced entry but that is just not true.
"They could have cleared them out straight away but they didn't and now it's turning into a nightmare.
"Initially there were five and now people are saying there is about a dozen."
Mr Durant said the experience had led him to have more contempt for the police than he did for the squatters.
"I find the action of the squatters more defensible than the actions of the police who failed to act," he said.
"I want to know what happens if a squatter kills themselves in my property because all the staircases have gone and there are exposed electrics which are on.
"I want to know if one of them dies whether the police have any culpability for that because they are in a property that is inhabitable and dangerous."
Mr Durant also said he also could not understand why so many police needed to attend the scene if they could do nothing.
"I really, really object to five policemen turning up to tell you there's nothing they can do," he said.
"I cannot believe the police are under pressure if they can spare people to stand around for an hour.
"I don't see, as a taxpayer, how they can justify sending five police officers to the scene when they don't have any intention of doing anything.
"If I had a sweet for every time I was told the law is a grey area I would have been sick.
"I told them on site they were useless. I told them to go and help old ladies to cross the road because they were not helping me at all."
It is the second time Mr Durant has had squatters in the building.
Last time he said he had to hire five skips once they moved out to take away the rubbish that was left following their stay.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police said: "Shortly after 5pm on Wednesday, June 27, police received a report of people entering a property in St John's Road.
"Officers were immediately sent to the scene and spoke to the owner and the people inside the building.
"Inquiries established that no damage had been caused and the owner was informed this was a civil matter and was advised about civil action."