Campaign in motion but government consultation imminent

It was good to meet so many of you at the Squash launch event in May. What a reassuring gathering of people opposed to the criminalisation of squatting, and chaired expertly by John McDonnell, thank you.

At the event Catherine Sacks-Jones of Crisis gave a powerful insight into the realities of squatting for the hidden-homeless in England and Wales. Paul Palmer provided the facts about empty properties and the speculators who do well out of them.

Yiannis from The Advisory Service for Squatters explained the history of squatting and of tenants rights, including current legislation that sufficiently protects homeowners and how criminalisation would burden police, courts and prisons system.

Hannah Kurt from Squash emphasised the need for a strong coalition of groups to respond to the consultation and avoid criminalising the most vulnerable people as opposed to dealing with the housing crisis.

Tom Hunter, the National Gallery exhibited photographer, told us of his experiences squatting and the benefits of independence and community that he built with it, especially as a low paid worker and for his family.

It was a successful first step to our campaign; bringing together diverse representatives, significant questions, and valuable ideas with which we can work together to stop any criminalisation.

In their launch of the Legal Aid and Senctencing Bill this week, the government announced the withdrawal of legal aid from squatters, and indicated their intention to hold talks in the near future regarding the criminalisation of squatting. The consultation has not yet been launched, and we will keep you updated.

Next Steps

We would like to invite you to our second public meeting, hopefully more groups will attend so as to strengthen and co-ordinate opposition responses to the up-coming consultation. Please note that the date has changed.

Squash Public Meeting
13th July
7 – 9pm
Committee Room 15
House of Commons
Chaired by John McDonnell

The Squash briefing ‘Why we can’t criminalise our way out of a housing crisis’ is available here. For more information and updates on the campaign we recommend you join our mailing list – you can sign up in the top corner of the page.

In the meantime, follow us on Twitter and please pass on information about the Squash campaign and the public meeting in July.