Friday, April 26, 2013

Man Jailed After Comments Made In Atos Assessment

A Nottingham man has now been held in custody for two weeks after he was accused of “threatening behaviour” due to comments he allegedly made during his Atos benefits assessment.

Steve Topley is a 49 year old father with multiple serious health problems who was required to attend a Work Capability Assessment with the notorious IT firm Atos – the company responsible for stripping benefits from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people.  During the process Mr Topley made some comments about someone not present at the assessment.  His family say these comments were misunderstood and were in response to questions from the assessor about his personal life.

These comments led to Atos staff calling the police and Mr Topley was asked to attend Queens Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham.  When he refused to do so he was arrested.  At QMC he was de-arrested and received a mental health assessment but no reason was found to detain him under the mental health act.  He was then re-arrested and taken in handcuffs to Nottingham police station where he was later charged.

He has now been refused bail twice in closed courts which his family were not permitted to attend.  His sister Gina Topley, who says the family are being kept in the dark about the legal process, has said:

“My brother has not been given any opportunity to speak and give his side of the story to a judge and he was not offered an appropriate adult to accompany him when he was arrested.”

His family have not been allowed to visit him in prison and have raised concerns that his medication may not be being administered properly.  Mr Topley will face another appearance in a closed court tomorrow (Friday 26th April) and there are major fears that he will be remanded once again pending psychiatric reports.

His family and supporters have called a demonstration outside the court tomorrow calling for his immediate release.

Meet outside Nottingham Crown Court on Friday 26th April from 9.30-11.00am – please help spread the word.  For more details and the  latest news visit:

NWN: The bankers austerity cuts will mean many of our people will be horribly treated. Will we as nationalists refuse to help them ? There should be no austerity cuts on any of our people in our society. The disgraceful cuts that has  included driving our disabled onto lower benefits. Because that is all it amounts to. This included closing down many places like at REMPLOY -  a disgrace. 

Millions will be affected by these bankers cuts. If we don't support them, then they  will be lost to us.


Anonymous said...

Steve is back with his family tonight and is is good spirits despite his ordeal being far from over. His experiences in prison have been galling and we will be releasing more details of this soon.Offered the Hobson's choice of spending several more weeks in HMP Nottingham and facing a potential 10 year stretch,or pleading guilty and being assured a non custodial sentence he chose the latter.He will return to crown court in 3 weeks to face sentencing. For now he wants to thank everyone who helped with his campaign, attended today's protest, handed out leaflets and dared to speak out, while those in power attempted to surround his case in secrecy. It was really important to support steve and his family, and todays demo definitely made an impact on his legal team and seemed to produce a result, albeit not the one we were hoping for.

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GWR said...

Visit to Atos adviser leaves man with criminal record

In Atos meeting, Steve Topley made casual death threat in reference to a third party. The next thing he knew he'd been charged by police

The atmosphere in Nottingham crown court on Friday morning was predictably bleak, crackling with rage, frustration and people slamming doors.

But the friends and family of Steve Topley, standing outside, seemed perplexed rather than angry, although they have made a FREE STEVE! banner. All families think bad things will never happen to them, and all families – until one of them is arrested – would tell you, as Gina Topley told me: "We're really not this kind of family. We're never in trouble with the police."

The case is puzzling: why would a man of 49, with no history of violence, no record of mental illness, never mind a criminal record, suddenly appear in court charged with threats to kill? As criminologists often note, you don't get many 50-year-olds who decide to start being psychopaths.

On 11 April, Topley was in a meeting with Atos, the firm that assesses if you're fit for work, and eligible for benefits. The assessor asked him how he felt about a particular guy – guy X, let's call him. Topley said that if he saw him in the street, he would kill him.

Atos called the police, who took him for a mental health assessment. Doctors could find nothing wrong, and gave him back to the police, who charged him.

His solicitor, Roger Wilson, said with a shrug that this is pretty standard: if you threaten to kill someone, even if you do so to a third party, that counts as a threat to kill. So Topley pleaded guilty, in front of his bewildered ex-wife and daughter, his sister, his best friend of 30 years and a chirpy judge, who concluded: "I take the view that you are not a danger; I just think that you got rather worked up."

To reveal why he wanted to kill guy X, would inflame a case that has already proceeded out of all proportion to its seriousness – just take my word for it that it's a situation in which any of us might use this phrase hyperbolically.

The circumstances don't involve any child protection issues, any racism or religious hatred, or any terrorist threat.

GWR said...

This must happen all the time; in doctors' surgeries and psychiatric appointments, between counsellors and patients, in healthcare settings across the land, people must be sitting in rooms saying they want to kill one another. It's part of our rage vernacular.

Topley's solicitor Roger Wilson says:"If it were somebody with a duty of confidentiality, they wouldn't be allowed to call the police and this wouldn't have happened."

Gina Topley explains that her brother went into the Atos meeting thinking it was a confidential health meeting, like a doctor's appointment. Steve has had cancer, he only has one kidney, he has heart disease – and was advised to come off jobseeker's allowance and move onto a sickness benefit. As part of this process, he went to his GP and was referred to a counsellor (this session was in confidence) and he got his Atos appointment at more or less the same time. He has no history of mental illness, but it was legitimate for any one of these people to probe him on his feelings since, as Gina explained, "all his other illnesses have built up and made him feel useless."

An Atos assessor may have medical training, but isn't employed in a medical capacity; they're just a sub-contractor of the DSS; the hippocratic oath doesn't mean squat to them. But people assume that they can be frank – Gina says she has had more than 20 phone calls from other people who've fallen foul of Atos in this kind of situation – when actually, they should approach it with the wariness of a parole hearing.

Back in court, Topley's 19-year-old daughter is crying. "They're tears of happiness," she says as the judge assures her father: "I'm quite sure I can deal with this in a way that won't mean you'll lose your liberty."

To an outsider, this looks like a man in very poor health, in an area of the country with very high unemployment who went to the jobcentre to look for a job and came away with a criminal record. It doesn't seem very efficient.

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