The City of London filing at the High Court describes a scene of degradation, where gutters are used as toilets, activists daub graffiti on the walls of the seventeenth century cathedral and the smell of cannabis wafts over bystanders honouring the dead on Armistice Day.
The disturbing account paints a very different picture to that of peaceful champions of social justice watched over by the Occupy LSX “tranquility team”.
John Zuber, a temporary inspector with the City of London Police, said women and children did not feel safe in the camp and that local businesses reported takings falling by up to 35 per cent. A sex offender had also been staying in the camp.
“All the above has given the impression the camp is not a safe place, especially after dark. Police are receiving reports from businesses that their staff feel intimidated walking through the camp.”
Joy Hollister, director of community and children’s services for the City of London, described how the camp changed in the weeks after opening on 15 October.
She said there was an increase in the number of vulnerable people, including those with signs of “poor mental health, people who were exhibiting signs of drug use including stumbling and compulsive behaviour, people who had body odour arising from significant periods without washing or change of clothing and a number of people who were clearly under the influence of drugs and alcohol”.
Hollister also describes her concern over a boy, thought to be aged between 11 and 13, who was at the camp with his father and a group of cannabis-smokers and whose bodies showed scars from injecting drugs. The father moved the boy away from Hollister, who told her social care team to visit the next day.
Nicholas Cottam, registrar of St Paul’s, describes the “desecration” and litany of problems the protest has caused for the cathedral, despite church authorities abandoning plans for an eviction.
“Human defecation has occurred in the West portico entrance and inside the cathedral at the West end on several occasions.... Foul language has frequently been directed at cathedral staff.”
Douglas Wilkinson, City assistant director for street scene and strategy, said: “There has been a marked increase in anti-social behaviour ... There has been a change in the mood, atmosphere or behaviour since the more unsavoury elements have arrived. I have overhead people talking of being threatened and assaulted by drunken factions of the group.”
Occupy LSX said: “The hygiene standards are very high, we have worked with the church closely to prevent any disruption to their services and have responded to their requests. We have regular cleaning shifts and our aim is the same as the church, to maintain a high standard of hygiene in and around the church grounds. We are taking these allegations very seriously.”
“A large white circular tent... was erected as a women and children only tent as a number of the female protesters no longer felt safe within the camp... the tent has not been moved - the City of London Police view”
“Graffiti have been scratched and painted onto the great West doors of the cathedral, the Chapter House and most notably a sacrilegious message painted onto the restored pillars of the West portico - the St Paul’s view”
“The protest camp is deteriorating in terms of cleanliness... There is now a strong continuous unpleasant odour... there appears to be a ‘them and us’ split in the camp - the City of London environmental health team view”