A security team went SAS today (June 23) and abseiled from the roof of a posh London house to help evict the squatters. The team of ex-Special Forces veterans have cordoned off the front of the stunning Bloomsbury Way property. They were needed to block the windows to prevent the squatters from jumping out as the ushers burst inside through the front door.
The recall team belonged to the ‘Specialist Group International’. Comprised of former Special Forces, Fire, Police and Military veterans, SGI is contracted by the police to recover evidence from impossible situations and safely remove protesters. Equipped with gear worth £3million, two dogs, vans and even a helicopter, the group has already removed protesters from oil rigs and even underground.
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Hired by ushers Veritas, the SGI executed a morning raid on the squatters at 4:30 a.m. descending on ziplines from the roof. SGI group leader Peter Faulding, 59, known as the ‘human mole’ for his ability to crawl into any space and go anywhere, said the operation went ahead “safely”.
Peter, a former veteran of the Sussex Parachute Regiment, said his group’s operations were always aimed at evacuating people safely and respectfully. After the move, he said the house was “ransacked” by the building’s squatters. The father-of-three explained: “We have always built a good relationship with the protesters, in all the incidents we have faced, we have never had an accident or an assault.”
These people in this building were squatters so it was a different approach but despite it being a ‘raid’ we try to be nice and respectful.” We were brought in by the ushers because we are the group who deals with situations other people can’t handle.” This incident was a private kidnapping so not a police matter, but I have dealt with every major protest since the Newbury Bypass protests in 1995. We are the only specialist protester kidnapping team in the UK.
Telling the group’s tip for dealing with people in volatile or unpredictable circumstances, Peter says the best approach is to offer them coffee and be compassionate. “Just be considerate and treat everyone the same, smile at them and help them out safely. We’ve never had any issues as a result.”
Although the raid may have resembled the Iranian embassy raid in 1980, Peter says the goal is not to go “hard”, but to go safely. He explained, “It probably felt a bit like siege. But like any military, it’s all about safety.” It wasn’t about coming in strong – it was about making sure people don’t get hurt, that’s what we want.”
The main reason for this strategy is to prevent them from entering the roof or balconies of the property. Once they are there, bailiff operations always fail because it becomes too dangerous to try to remove them. They could fall or hurt themselves. “We have a 100% safety record however, so we were contracted a few weeks ago to launch the operation and have rehearsed the plan beforehand under similar conditions. Specialist Group International are also trained in evidence recovery , firefighting and rescue operations.
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