Two nurses have won compensation after being fined £10,000 during a socially-distanced NHS pay protest during lockdown.
Karen Reissmann – a 61-year-old frontline NHS nurse, who worked throughout the pandemic – organised a socially-distanced demonstration outside in St Peter’s Square in Manchester city centre on 7 March 2021 to protest against the government’s proposed 1% pay rise for NHS workers.
Even though only around 40 people were expected to attend, Ms Reissmann was informed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers that the protest was not permitted under the COVID-19 regulations and could not go ahead.
She was then fined £10,000 for organising the protest, and was cautioned by a police officer.
Ms Gallagher, also an NHS frontline nurse who was 65 years old at the time, was arrested by the police, and later de-arrested and fined £200 for contravening the COVID-19 regulations.
Faced with having to pay the fines and report themselves to their professional body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the nurses then decided to instruct lawyers, Bindmans LLP, to challenge their fines.
Initially, Greater Manchester Police defended the £10,000 fine as “proportionate, legal, accountable and necessary in the circumstances” – but now, after legal proceedings were brought against the force, it has agreed to settle the nurses’ claims for compensation, and has also accepted that Ms Gallagher’s arrest had been unlawful, and the fines were unlawfully imposed, subsequently agreeing to withdraw them.
The police conceded that they had “misunderstood the effects” of the COVID-19 regulations.
“The force however refused to apologise to Ms Reissmann for the distress caused to her by the £10,000 fine, or for the professional embarrassment the criminal sanction caused her,” Bindmans LLP did however say in a statement on the case.
“The police have also refused to make a fulsome apology to Ms Gallagher for her arrest and the impact that this had on her.”
Commenting on the compensation claim win, Ms Reissmann said: “In March 2021, the NHS had 100,000 unfilled vacancies [and] when the government offered a 1% pay rise to traumatised and exhausted health workers after a year of battling the pandemic, we knew this situation would only get worse – we needed to protest to protect the NHS.
“I received a fine 200 times the amount of the fine Boris Johnson has received. Why, when the protest I organised was lawful and intended to improve the world, not party in a flagrant abuse of the rules?”
She added: “The NHS now has 110,000 unfilled vacancies.
“Over a hundred thousand people died in the UK from COVID-19 [and] millions are on NHS waiting lists – the Prime Minister should be resigning over this, as well as his parties.”
Police arrest four men and shut down ‘incredibly dangerous’ cannabis farm in Salford
Police have shut down a suspected cannabis farm in Salford today, arresting four men.
Officers swooped on the property on Arthur Street in Swinton after finding evidence that the house was being used to grow cannabis plants.
The farm has been described as ‘incredibly dangerous’ to other occupants in the area.
Three rooms in the house were full of plants growing, with a huge amount of wiring surrounding them that posed a fire hazard.
The four men detained by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Salford Neighbourhood Team were subsequently arrested on suspicion of involvement in the production and supply of cannabis and remain in police custody for questioning.
Sergeant Peter MacFarlane said: “Locating a cannabis farm is a great result for the team who are gathering intelligence and working hard to crackdown on drug-related crime across Salford.
“Farms of this nature are also incredibly dangerous to other occupants in the area. The building itself is still being made safe due to the amount of wiring around the plants. Criminals running these types of enterprises have no regard for public safety and in these conditions, an electrical fault from bad wiring could easily start a fire and endanger lives.
“The arrests and seizures then go someway towards disrupting the supply of illegal drugs and the criminality that comes with it, and will also make our communities safer.
“This operation was intelligence led and a huge part of our intelligence comes from members of the public sharing information with us. If you have suspicions about a crime taking place please report it so we can take positive action and bring those responsible to justice.”
You can make a report by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. You can also report via the LiveChat function on GMP’s website: www.gmp.police.uk
Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Featured image: GMP
‘Groundbreaking’ new app to help get homeless people into work launches in Manchester
Homeless families across Manchester are set to benefit from a “groundbreaking” new service that gives them access to employment support.
With the ultimate aim of helping homeless people move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes, Manchester City Council has announced a new pilot partnership with Beam – a social enterprise that fundraises on behalf of homeless people and connects them with a supportive online community.
Through Beam’s “innovative” app-based platform, homeless people can raise money for items that often end up being financial obstacles to them moving into a permanent home, whether than be funding equipment or training to help them secure stable and financially-viable employment, or towards a rental deposit, moving van, or other homeware essentials, and everything in between.
Donations come from people in the local community, and are shared out equally between participants, so that everyone reaches their fundraising target within an average of 17 days.
Having helped more than 1,300 homeless people “achieve their goals” since being founded in 2017, Beam isn’t just about funding, as it also has a team of caseworkers who provide one-to-one help with employment to those in need.
The caseworkers also lend a hand with searching for properties online, communicating with landlords, and booking house viewings, while Beam also works with a network of vetted landlords to help people find a home
The initiative also provides further support for at least six months after moving.
Over the next year, Manchester City Council says its pilot partnership with Beam will initially support 25 families who are living in temporary accommodation in the region, and move them into their own private rental homes.
Residents can be referred to the scheme by the Council’s housing teams, as well as other local services, and each person is assigned a caseworker from Beam, who then supports them on their journey into stable housing.
“No one chooses homelessness voluntarily,” admitted Councillor Joanna Midgley, Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council.
“And when it happens, it can be devastating, which is why we are looking at a range of solutions to help people secure affordable and decent homes in Manchester.
“Our new partnership with Beam is an innovative approach to improve people’s life chances, supporting them, where possible, into sustainable jobs allowing them to move out of temporary accommodation and into their own homes.