Ken Clarke ‘bypasses democracy’ to sneak through anti-squatting laws

Tony Gosling tony at
Thu Oct 27 11:04:28 BST 2011

The planned law reads (on page 36 of the response to the consultation):
The new offence will be committed where a person is in a residential 
building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser, knows or 
ought to know that he or she is a trespasser and is living in the 
building or intends to live there for any period
Clarke's made an amendment and added it to the legal aid bill-

Government 'bypasses democracy' to sneak through anti-squatting laws

Housing charities, MPs, squatters, property consultants, activists, 
lawyers and artists have accused the government of sneaking in an 
amendment to the Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill announced today by 
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke to "make squatting in residential 
buildings a criminal offence". Campaigners say the amendment will not 
take into account the thousands of consultation responses submitted 
earlier this month and will not add any further protection to residents.

Over the past 3 months the government have been undertaking a 
consultation process entitled "Options for Dealing with squatters" 
which came to an end on October 5th. Squatters Action for Secure 
Homes (SQUASH) have accused the government of "ignoring the 
consultation" by rushing through anti-squatting laws only 3 weeks 
after the consultation has ended. The squatting consultation response 
has just been published1. 90% of responses argued against taking any 
action on squatting. Of a total of 2217 responses, 2126 were from 
people concerned about the impact of criminalising squatting. The 
consultation response recognised "that the statistical weight of 
responses was therefore against taking any action on squatting".

The amendment states that making squatting in residential building a 
criminal offence will "end the misery of home-owners whose properties 
have been preyed on by squatters". However strong legislation already 
exists to protect residents from having there home squatted. Last 
month 160 leading legal figures wrote an open letter which was 
published in The Guardian explaining that under Section 7 of the 
Criminal Law Act 1977 it is already a criminal offence to squat 
someone's home.2

SQUASH spokesperson Paul Reynolds, said:

" The governent is ignoring the results of its own consultation which 
shows that the criminalisation of squatting in empty residential 
properties will do nothing to protect residents who are already 
protected by strong legislation. This amendment will criminalise the 
homeless in the middle of a housing crisis who use squatting as the 
last remaining option to keep a roof over their heads."

John Mcdonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington said:

"By trying to sneak this amendment through the back door the 
government are attempting to bypass democracy. There was over 2,200 
responses to the consultation on squatting so there is no way the 
government could have acknowledged all the evidence".


For more information and interviews contact: press at 
or 07415 516 105 John McDonnell MP on 07956 292 576

Notes to Editors SQUASH were founded in the early 90's; the 
last time the Tories tried to criminalise squatting. SQUASH re-formed 
in the face of the latest threat to squatting.
There are 700,000 empty properties across the UK: From 2009 Empty 
Homes Figures:
A new report done by Crisis highlights the link between squatting and 
Photos can be used from the SQUASH Flickr page:
This entry was posted on October 26, 2011. 

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