Wandsworth Borough Council is under pressure not to punish the family members of people accused of taking part in recent riots. Local residents began a campaign after the council served an eviction notice to a mother and her two children because her son was accused of rioting.
Over 1,500 people have signed a petition started by Wandsworth resident Robert Davidson on the website Change.org.
The campaign comes in the midst of increasing debate about punishments being dealt out in response to the riots. Wandsworth was the first council to announce an eviction notice to the mother of a teenager accused, but not convicted, of taking part in the riots.
The action met with scepticism from legal experts and condemnation from several Wandsworth councillors and Charitable Housing Associations.
Davidson is keen to emphasise that he is "as upset as anyone about the riots". He said he had heard the sirens screaming up and down the road. He added, "I detest the rioting and looting that went on".
Davidson said, "Of course we need to punish criminals but I just don't see why an eight-year-old child or a mum should be evicted from their home and maybe even lose their benefits just because a young boy got caught up in some trouble".
He described the eviction as "collective punishment" that would "make innocent people feel hated by society" and "deepen the social rift that led to the riots".
Weldon Kennedy, Director of Organising at Change.org, described Davidson's efforts as "inspiring"
He explained, “This is exactly the type of things we hope to empower people to do at Change.org: see a problem and mobilise their community to address it".
The trial for the accused teenager will take place on 6 September. If he is found guilty, the council would then have to decide on whether or not to follow through on the controversial punishment.