Five resist the census

IssueMarch 2012
Feature by John Lindsay

Deborah Glass-Woodin

Deborah Glass-Woodin was an active member of the Green Party and served on the city and county council in Oxford, where she still lives. Deborah had her pre-trial hearing on 2 February and her full hearing is scheduled for 14 May at Reading magistrates’ court.

After spending many years as an active member of the Green Party, she has become a green activist. In 2008, she was arrested during a protest against treefelling in Oxford. The charges were later dropped.

According to Deborah, there are four fundamental problems with the census that led her to refuse to complete the census. She said that the connection of the arms manufacturer Lockheed Martin to the census was the first reason.

Second, she believes the census process is an extremely inefficient way to collect data, much of which has already been ‘collected at the work place’.

Deborah also sees census questions about race, religion and nationality as ‘intrusive’ and ‘only used for government monitoring’.

Finally, despite what the statement on the census says about the information being used for deciding where to place schools and hospitals, Deborah says that the time she spent on the city and county council in Oxford leads her to believe that ‘those decisions are driven by money, not need’.

Roger Grenville

On 2 March, Roger Grenville, of Leamington Spa, will stand trial at Birmingham magistrates’ court.

The 2011 census is the sixth Roger has received in his life, and he says it is the first that he has Four hundred people are being prosecuted for refusing to fill out the 2011 census. Many of them took their stand on political grounds. Here are some of those who are resisting. Five resist the census not completed.

‘I refused to fill out a census because of Lockheed Martin,’ Roger said. ‘A company that produces missiles and bombs should not have a role in a national census.’

Roger said he found it even harder to accept that the international weapons manufacturer was making such a large profit for its role in last year’s census.

‘It angers me that, two years ago, Gordon Brown preached about British jobs for British workers, and then he proceeded to give a contract to a US arms company to conduct the British national census,’ he said. ‘I just thought “no way”,’ he added. ‘You have to draw the line somewhere.’

Roger, a former member of the Labour Party, has been an antiwar protester since the 1960s. In 1961, he participated in the march from London to Holy Loch, Scotland, to protest against the US Polaris naval base there. Roger says he was one of the many protesters who canoed up against the American nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus.

Jane Howarth

Jane Howarth is a mother of six living in Barnstaple, in north Devon. Her trial, however, is taking place in Plymouth, involving a four-hour round trip. On 1 February, Jane entered a written ‘not guilty’ plea, because she did not have enough time to make the trip down to Plymouth. Her trial was set for 22 February (after PN goes to press) at Plymouth magistrates’ court.

Jane’s main reason for refusing to complete the census is privacy. ‘This is the third census I’ve not filled out. I have a right to my privacy, especially now with Lockheed Martin being hired for the census,’ she said. ‘What the government is essentially doing is warmongering.’

Jane said she’s not doing this because of political or religious motives.

‘I’m just doing this because it’s something that I believe in,’ she said. ‘I’ve never been a protester. I just believe in a right to privacy.’

‘I thought we lived in a free society until I met the [crown prosecution services],’ she added. ‘It’s made me realise that an extremely large number of people were working to infringe on our rights.’

Judith Sambrook

The pre-trial for Judith Sambook of Shrewsbury took place on 9 February at Mold magistrates’ court. Her full hearing will take place at Wrexham magistrates’ court on 8 March. Judith said she made her decision not to complete the 2011 census as soon as she first read about Lockheed Martin’s involvement in an article in the Guardian.

‘Knowing the role that Lockheed Martin had, I thought there was just no way that I could complete the census,’ Sambrook said. ‘I had to refuse.’ Had the census been conducted solely by the office for national statistics, Judith said she would have most likely participated.

‘I couldn’t justify participating in something that involved an international arms dealer,’ she said.

Judith has been an active anti-war protester since 1983, when she participated in the million-person CND march in London. Judith has also marched to protest against a number of conflicts since, including both Gulf wars.

John Voysey

On 2 March, John Voysey’s pre-trial, originally scheduled for 1 February, will take place at Wrexham magistrates’ court.

John, from Herefordshire, is a practicing Quaker and a lifelong pacifist. An anti-war activist for over half a century, John did alternative service during the Second World War, working for the department of forestry. In the early 1990s, John was an active protester against the first Gulf War. And most recently, he has demonstrated at the Farnborough arms show.

In John’s mind, there was no other option but to refuse to partake in the 2011 census. As soon as he found out about Lockheed Martin, John said he made up his mind not to complete the forms in spite of any potential legal ramifications.

‘It was never a question,’ John told Peace News. ‘As a pacifist, I was just appalled that [the UK] had hired an international arms manufacturer to conduct the national census.’