Disagree With An Atos Decision? Then Starve Says DWP

Kill the Poor…..

the void

atos-paralympic-protestThe DWP have laid a vicious benefit trap which will mean severely sick and disabled people will have no legal entitlement to benefit at all if they choose to appeal an assessment by the notorious IT company Atos.

Atos carry out the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), the test for the sickness and disability benefit Employment Support Allowance.  This crude computer based test has been use to strip benefits from hundreds of thousands of people by declaring them ‘fit for work’.

From October this year claimants will not be able to appeal against a ‘fit for work’ decision until they have first requested a ‘mandatory reconsideration’ by a DWP decision maker.  Only if the claimant disagrees with this decision will they be able to take an appeal to a benefit tribunal.  This process is likely to take months.

A recent response to an FOI request (PDF) confirms that claimants will not…

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Rough Justice

Steve was granted bail today at Nottingham Crown Court, at the third application. A massive relief to his family, this move at least ensures he will get medical attention and breaks the cycle of closed ‘in chambers’ rulings that have blighted his case from the start. The Judge on the day appeared to accept that Steve was not a threat to anyone, however the ludicrous charge of ‘threatening to kill’ is still hanging over him. Police have not so far informed the alleged ‘victim’ of any plot against him, and cannot seem to find them, demonstrating how seriously they actually take this. The ‘Threatening to Kill’ offence is an archaic piece of Law dating back to 1860, when presumably this signalled some sort of ‘Duel’ might be in the pipeline. It carries a potential 10 year sentence if convicted.

Steve plead guilty as he was advised that he would not get a custodial sentence if he agreed to this, and would be given a ‘community service order’ and released to a private address instead. He will be under strict bail conditions and report to the probation service, and will now have a criminal record, making it very unlikely he will get a job in the near future. Back to square one then, and a great piece of work by Atos.

He is due to reappear before the Crown Court in 3 weeks for sentencing.

Demonstration for Justice

For immediate Press Release 24/04/13

“Free Steven Topley Demonstration and Leafleting.”

Photo opportunity: Friday 26th April 2013. 9.30-11.00 am

Family and supporters will protest Steven Topley’s innocence and imprisonment outside Nottingham Crown Court 60 Canal St, Nottingham, NG1 7EL.
Contact details: Dave Perkins Tel; 07971 373479. Gina Topley Tel; 07952 976316.

A campaign has begun to free a man detained by police since 11th April for allegedly making a threatening comment during a Atos interview. Police were called to Steve Topley’s ESA interview by Atos staff who then escorted him to the QMC where he was kept late into the night and denied contact with his family, despite medical staff finding no reason to detain him. He was arrested by police later that night and charged with “threatening behaviour”. Magistrates denied Steve bail, on two occasions, even under strict conditions, and he has since been remanded to Nottingham Prison. A demonstration has been called to highlight this injustice.

Steve has had no visits in Prison, not been offered an appropriate adult, and has been discharged from the QMC where there was deemed to be no reason to detain him under any section of the mental health act. Those prosecuting him continue to criminalise and pathologise him and present him as some kind of risk, insisting on closed hearings and secrecy. His health is suffering due to his treatment as he has a life threatening heart condition and requires constant monitoring and medication.

Steve’s sister Gina Topley will be available to answer specific questions relating to this case , and be interviewed, as well as concerned campaign supporters.

More background information is available at: http://www.freestevetopley.wordpress.com

Email: Freestevetopley@gmail.com

Secrets and Lies

Steve’s Bail hearing was held in secret yesterday with family and supporters being kept in the dark about the whole proceedings. His solicitor found out about this at the last minute, and it appears sadly that no substantial defence case was mounted due to the limited time available to produce evidence. Steve himself was not asked to appear at the ‘closed’ session to witness his own bail application. Prosecution seem determined to deny him bail at all costs, further criminalising him and presenting him as a risk to society. Those that know him personally know that this is not the case. He has still not been allowed a visitor at HMP Nottingham, the paperwork has just not materialised so far for this to happen. Meanwhile the speed at which the legal system itself has acted to detain and prosecute him is bewildering.

Steve’s solicitor has been informed that his Crown Court appearance on Friday is to be in closed session. This again prevents anyone giving evidence on his behalf, and denies him justice. Those that seek to criminalize him will of course be able to have their say based on only the opinions of ‘professionals’ who must be thoroughly embarrassed at the incompetent mess they have made, and will be seeking to brush the entire episode under the carpet.

Even though we will not be allowed into court supporters and family of Steve will be making our opinions known this Friday as we intend to hold a peaceful protest outside the Court. We call on all those who are aware of his plight to assemble outside the Crown Court Nottingham at 9 am this Friday 26th April to help us to raise media awareness, hand out leaflets, and demonstrate our disgust at the legal process that has allowed this miscarriage of justice to happen. Please spread this call out far and wide, join us on the day if you can. FreeSteveTopley

wall of silence surrounds closed hearing

Steve’s case is to be discussed in a closed court hearing today Tuesday 23rd April. No member of his family or the public are allowed to attend and his solicitor has had only a very short time to prepare for this hearing, after first being informed that even they would not be allowed to attend! Supporters do not know if this is a bail hearing, who has called for the court hearing, who will be in attendance, or what evidence will be presented against him. Suspicion is mounting that he will continue to be held on remand and his court date will be set back in order for authorities to request further reports about his mental health, and buy time for the police to cobble together some evidence against him that shows he presents some kind of risk. This is a very worrying development and demonstrates the extent to which the prosecution have decided he is already guilty. Family are still concerned for Steve’s health as the prison authorities do not seem to understand the effect all of the stress is having on his heart condition. They are extremely concerned that his medication is not being administered properly,and have still not been allowed to visit him in prison.

Overview of Steve’s case

  •  On Thursday 11th April Steve Attended a Atos routine interview regarding his Employment Support Allowance (ESA).
  • During this confidential interview the Police were called as Steve allegedly made reference to a third party which was misinterpreted as a threat.
  • Steve was detained by two Police officers who escorted him to the Queens Medical Centre where he was put under observation untill late in the evening, he was assessed by medical staff who could find no reason to detain him.He was kept untill late into the night, offered no contact with his family, and not offered an ‘appropriate adult’.
  • later that night he was rearrested by Police who took him to Bridewell Station Nottingham where he was placed in cells and told he was being charged with ‘threatening behaviour’ and would appear before magistrates on Saturday 13th April.
  • Steve appeared before Magistrates and was remanded to Nottingham Prison and was denied bail, as the Police opposed this, even though relatives agreed to his residence, electronic tagging equipment and strict bail conditions.
  • He is due to appear at Crown Court on 26th April to answer to a charge of threatening behaviour even though no crime has been committed.
  • We are running out of time so need to raise the profile of this miscarriage of justice quickly. please read about steve on the above link and share/like this information as widely as possible while we build a campaign to support him and his family. More ways to help will be added soon so please watch this blog!!