UK: Notes for New Squatters

The government’s U-turn on evictions is merely a temporary reprieve — and today Freedom is publishing this newly updated Advisory Service for Squatters guide, which will only get more relevant as the year wears on.

Squatting means occupying empty buildings, or land, without permission. Normally, it means homeless people finding somewhere to live, for a while at least, but what people do with the space they occupy is up to them. The following is a very basic guide. For more information or if you have any problems contact the Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS).

Non-residential squatting is still legal

Squatting in non-residential buildings, or where there has been an agreement, is still a civil matter. To resolve it the owner has to take you to court. The owners have legal ways and procedures to have squatters evicted and cannot legally use force or threats. Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 makes it an offence to force entry to a building which is occupied, and this includes squats. This will no longer help against the police if they are enforcing the new law against squatters in residential properties, but is otherwise still valid. This is explained in the Legal Warnings, which squatters have either on display or ready to show people. [Read More]

Kent: Coroner’s Inquest into the Death of Daniel Gauntlett

It was just under a year ago that the SQUASH Team got wind of the death of a homeless man in Kent, who had frozen to death sleeping outside a derelict residential property. After the arrest of Alex Haigh for squatting an empty housing association (L&Q) property, the death of Daniel Gauntlett (35) exemplified the injustice of the new law s144 LASPO, making squatting residential buildings a criminal offense. On further investigation, we found out that the police had spoken to Mr Gauntlett that day; SQUASH suspect that they told him not to try entering the empty bungalow on a freezing February night, or he would be arrested. SQUASH immediately put out a press release condemning the death: “Homeless Man Prevented From Squatting Dies” [SQUASH Campaign, 1 March 2013]
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London: Squatting, Media and the Liberal Myth

(No specific names or places have been used in this article. Much of the information is purposefully left vague for two reasons. Firstly to respect people’s anonymity and secondly so individuals and groups do not feel they are specifically under attack, which is not at all my intention. My intention is to put the squatting campaign in a wider political context, and examine some of the attitudes I have observed within this context)

As a prelude to the criminalisation on residential squatting in the UK in 2012, the right-wing media went on a hysterical smear campaign against those who self-house. All sorts of disparaging nonsense was thrown about. The media’s focus became the (in)conveniently timed squatting of a large house in a wealthy area of London. It was too tasty for the media to resist: a photogenic affluent professional couple. A baby due. And freeloading squatters invading their future family home. The hacks went mental.
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UK: SQUASH Newsround August – September 2013

The NewsRound is be a monthly post, keeping tabs on articles being posted in MainStream Media (MSM) sources, as well as independent channels (eg IMC, SchNEWS) about squatting, the new law (s.144) and possible new legislation (eg commercial). If you spot any articles of interest, please let us know by emailing: info AT squashcampaign DOT org. Disclaimer: All views expressed in this blog are that of the compiler and not necessarily that of SQUASH.
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UK: 40 top lawyers sign Guardian anti-squatting law repeal letter

The letter reads:

It is just over six months since the offence of squatting in a residential building came into force. At the time the offence was proposed, government sources claimed it was necessary as the law “does not support police acting when there are squatters in someone’s home” and that “there are no powers to throw them out”. The signatories to this letter include many of the 160 lawyers who wrote to the Guardian (26 September 2011) pointing out that, as a matter of law, those statements were wrong, as such powers did exist and had done so since the enactment of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

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UK: “The Case Against Section 144″ Press Release

Press Release

For immediate release

Campaign to repeal new squatting law launched in Parliament

Entitled ‘The Case Against Section 144’, SQUASH (Squatters Action for Secure Homes) are launching a new report and campaign in Parliament today. The report’s findings suggest the major concerns regarding criminalisation that arose during the government’s consultation process have been proven right, with homeless and vulnerable people disproportionately affected. No arrests so far have been for squatters displacing anyone from their home, which does suggest that the Criminal Law Act 1977 was sufficient for dealing with squatters – as predicted by many legal experts.

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London: SQUASH Picnic Attendees facing SOCPA Charges

The following piece has been written by Ashleigh Marsh, one of five currently being prosecuted under SOCPA legislation for her role is taking part at a picnic and sleep-out on the 31st October 2011, in order to visually show the effect that the criminalisation of squatting would have on between 20-50,000 people in England and Wales, ie having to sleep rough. Ashleigh is active in her community, for example working to get a new skateboard park built for local people in Woolwich, one of most deprived areas in London. SQUASH fully support Ashleigh and all the defendants as they face disproportinate charges, from Monday 23rd April, under the draconian and anti-democratic SOCPA law. This is Ashleigh’s story…
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UK: Squatting in residential properties to be criminalised in months

What a joke! All of it, the whole process. Last night the House of Lords passed a clause hidden in the legal aid bill to criminalise squatting in residential properties essentially making thousands of homeless people criminals overnight. A whole section of the very poorest and most vulnerable in society have been made criminals and again the debate took place extremely late in the day.
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UK: Lords knock coalition squat plan

On Wednesday night the proposed new law to criminalise squatting in residential properties (clause 130 of the LASPO Bill) was debated in the House of Lords. This was, in fact, the first time the clause has been properly debated since it was proposed. Or rather, the first time since the 1st November when the government slipped the clause into a bill which was in its last stage in the House of Commons.

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UK: House of Lords vote on squatting clause soon

LOBBY A LORD, GET INVOLVED!! As you may know, the bill to criminalise squatting in residential properties was rushed through the House of Commons and is already in the House of Lords despite a 96% pro-squatting majority in the consultation. Over the past few months Squash (Squatters Action for Secure Homes) has been busy lobbying the Lords to oppose the squatting clause and have had some successes. They have produced a briefing for Lords, and have contacted as many sympathetic Lords as possible. [Read More]

Manchester: Sleepout against anti-squatting laws

Around 20 people slept outside the BBC on Oxford Road, Manchester last night to oppose new legislation that would criminalise squatting. An amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which will be read in the House of Commons today, Tuesday 1 November, will make it a criminal rather than civil offence to trespass in an empty residential property.
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UK: Plans to criminalise squatting in residential buildings

Amendments to the Legal Aid Bill announced by Kenneth Clarke (Minister of “Justice”) would make it a criminal offence to squat in residential buildings.

The response to the consultation on squatting came out today and of the 2,200 respondents, more than 2,100 were in favour of NOT criminalising squatting. Showing yet again that the 1% do not give a shit about the 99% (or, ok in this case, to use the real figures, it’s the 4% versus 96%), the Government is simply going to push through the law anyway.
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