13Jul-05Oct11 - Justice ministry squatting consultation

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Jul 13 12:08:51 BST 2011

Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Geneva - 1947
Everyone has the right to a standard of living 
adequate for the health and well-being of himself 
and of his family, including food, clothing, 
housing and medical care and necessary social 
services, and the right to security in the event 
of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, 
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

http://www.squashcampaign.org/ - 
http://www.squatter.org.uk/ - http://squattastic.blogspot.com/

The Human Right to Adequate Housing
The People's Movement for Human Rights Education

End of the squat that moved in on the art scene
A Brixton block of flats where the Pogues and 
Jeremy Deller once lived is being emptied and sold off
By Sarah Morrison - Tuesday, 12 July 2011
A community of squatters that has lived in a set 
of artists' flats in south London for more than 
10 years is to be evicted today as part of a 
larger clampdown on the unauthorised occupation 
of the country's vacant properties. The local 
council will pay for "live-in guardians" to look 
after the flats until they are sold at auction.
Lambeth Council is to evict about 50 people from 
Clifton Mansions, a block of 22 flats in the 
centre of Brixton that has become known for 
housing alternative musicians and artists, 
including members of the Irish punk-folk band The 
Pogues and the Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller.
In an attempt to crack down on "anti-social 
behaviour" and provide what councillors call 
"vital funds" for the London borough of Lambeth, 
which has lost £37m of its government subsidy 
this year, all squatters at Clifton Mansions will 
be removed from their homes by bailiffs and 
police. The entire road will be sealed off for the eviction.........

Ignore headlines about squatters, government 
proposals target Gypsies and travellers#
Plans to criminalise trespassing where no damage 
has been caused will impact Gypsies, travellers and protestors
The prime minister's confirmation that the 
government will be bringing forward legislation 
for the criminalisation of trespass and the 
proposed removal of removal of legal aid from 
trespassers in the legal aid, sentencing and 
punishment of offenders bill amount to the most 
significant changes to the law of trespass in 
England and Wales for generations.
The media response, carefully directed by spin, 
has been to focus on squatting and, all too 
predictably, on "protecting homeowners" from 
squatters. That this response is wholly and 
perhaps wilfully inaccurate about the current law 
is something we've addressed before. Of course, 
squatting is threatened by the proposals, but the 
ramifications run deeper and wider.........

Justice ministry consultation: Options for 
dealing with squatters (consultation attached to this email as a PDF)
Reference number: CP 12/2011
Open date: 13 July 2011 - Close date: 05 October 2011
This consultation is aimed at anyone affected by 
squatters or has experience of using the current 
law or procedures to get them evicted.
Squatting usually involves the deliberate entry 
and occupation of a building without the consent of the property owner.
The purpose of this consultation is to gather 
more information about the extent of problems 
caused by squatters, and to invite views on 
whether, and how, existing criminal and civil 
mechanisms should be strengthened to deal with them.
Options for dealing with squatting [PDF 
Impact assessment [PDF 
Questions [Word 0.13mb] 

Blunt: ending the misery of squatting
Ministry of Justice - 13 July 2011
A new crime of squatting was proposed today by Justice Minister Crispin Blunt.
Making it an offence for the first time, and 
abolishing so-called 'squatters rights' are among 
a range of proposals to deal with the problem 
which would protect both home and business owners.
Making squatting an offence for the first time, 
sending persistent offenders to prison and 
abolishing so-called ‘squatters rights’ are among 
a range of proposals put forward as part of a new Government consultation.
Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said:
'Far too many people have to endure the misery, 
expense and incredible hassle of removing 
squatters from their property. Hard working home 
and business owners need and deserve a justice 
system where their rights come first.
'Today’s consultation is a first step to 
achieving this. I am clear that the days of 
so-called ‘squatters’ rights’ must end and 
squatters who break the law receive a proper punishment.'
In the consultation “Options for dealing with 
squatting” the Government puts forward for 
discussion a number of plans to better protect 
home and business owners. These include:
introducing a new criminal offence of squatting, 
which could result in a prison sentence for the most persistent offenders;

* abolishing so called ‘squatters’ rights’ which 
prevent legitimate occupiers of commercial 
property from using force to re-enter their 
properties if they have been occupied by squatters;
* expanding existing offences so that business 
property owners have the same level of protection as displaced homeowners; and
* working with the enforcement authorities to 
help ensure squatters are prosecuted for any 
other offences they commit – for example criminal 
damage, burglary or using electricity without permission.

The consultation paper asks for the public’s 
views on a range options for overhauling outdated 
laws, some of which date back to the 1970s.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
'I want to see an end to the misery that 
squatters cause and slam the door on their 
so-called ‘rights’, tipping the scales of justice 
in favour of the law-abiding homeowner once and for all.
'We’ve already taken steps to crackdown on this 
menace, including publishing guidance for 
property owners to keep squatters out, and 
allocating £100million towards bringing empty homes back into use.
'So there is no excuse for anyone to bring 
disruption and destruction to property owners’ 
lives by squatting, and that’s why it’s vital we 
look to take steps to tackle this problem.'
Stephen Cross, Head of Security at Ballymore Group said:
'It is clear that squatters are costing my 
company many thousands of pounds because of 
direct damage to buildings, the problems caused 
to neighbours with loud ‘Squat’ parties, litter, 
rubbish and the amount of time it takes to sort 
things out - sometimes six to twelve weeks for a 
court order to be granted and finally 
enforced.  This is almost inevitably expensive 
with court costs to be borne as well.
'Proposals to finally tackle the problem of 
squatting and to extend rights to commercial 
property owners are therefore extremely welcome.'
Legislation will be brought before Parliament 
following the conclusion of the consultation, if deemed necessary.
Alongside plans to consult on squatting the 
Ministry of Justice also announced last month, as 
part of its proposals for reform of civil legal 
aid, plans to stop squatters getting legal aid to 
fight eviction. The Government is clear that 
legal aid should be targeted at those most in 
need and does not consider it sensible for the 
taxpayer to provide funding for individuals who 
have clearly entered and remained on the property or site as a trespasser.

Notes to editors
Read the ‘Options for dealing with Squatters’ consultation paper
It invites views of the general public and 
interested parties and includes the following options:
Creating a new offence specifically targeted at 
trespassers who occupy other people's buildings 
without permission, thereby criminalising the act of squatting.
Amending section 7 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 
so that a squatter who refuses to leave 
non-residential property when requested to do so 
by the property owner would be guilty of an 
offence (it is already an offence for a squatter 
to refuse to leave residential property when 
required to do so by a displaced residential 
occupier or protected intending occupier of the property).
Amending section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 
so that the offence of using or threatening 
violence to secure entry to a property against 
the will of the people inside does not apply to 
wider range of property owners seeking to enter 
properties which have been occupied by squatters. 
(The offence already does not apply to displaced 
residential occupiers and protected intending occupiers).
Working with the enforcement authorities to 
improve enforcement of existing offences commonly 
committed by squatters  such as criminal damage or burglary.
Do nothing, but continue with existing criminal and civil law mechanisms.
Communities and Local Government squatting guidance on Directgov
For further information please call the Ministry 
of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536.

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