Monthly Archives: October 2011

Essential final details for SQUASH action

Here are the essential final details for the Squash action taking place during Parliamentary debates and votes on the criminalisation of squatting – this is our moment! Today and tomorrow Parliament discusses and votes on amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill Clause 26 of the Bill seeks to make squatting in residential buildings illegal. Groups opposing this have tabled amendments to lessen the impact and are detailed here. Squash have called for action to be taken . . o Lobby your MP, call and ask them to oppose the Bill or support these alternative amendments […]

Out of the squats and into the streets

  The Government wants to sneak through the criminalisation of squatting, it will be voted on in Parliament this Tuesday 1st November. Over 95% of responses to the ‘consultation’ on squatting were against further criminalisation, despite this the government is still going ahead with their proposals – effectively bypassing democracy. SQUASH have tried engaging with the democratic processes but despite overwhelming support to not criminalise squatting we have been ignored. Our only rational response now is to call for people to TAKE ACTION. We have been forced into this position. See you on the streets!   MONDAY 31st OCTOBER: CALL […]

Press Release: ‘Out of the squats and into the streets’

Press Release Embargoed for 6.59am, 31st October 2011 ‘Out of the squats and into the streets'; squatters sleep out in Central London Squatters Action for Secure Homes (SQUASH) who have been leading the campaign against Government plans to criminalise squatting have called for a mass sleep out tonight in Central London. The protest has been organised the night before an amendment (Clause 26) to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to ‘criminalise the squatting of residential properties’ is to be discussed in Parliament. Hundreds are expected to meet at High Street Kensington Tube for 6.30pm before heading […]

Between people and property: why the anti-squatting amendment must be opposed

The following piece is by Jacob, writing for The Third Estate. The state, we are told, defends two things in the law: people and property. That is, the state are bad dialecticians, who forever stupidly butt their heads against the fact that these two things, people and property, often come into conflict. And of course, for the most part they come out on the side of property, at once proclaiming that protecting people is the same as protecting the “rights” (although never “abilities”) of people to own property. Thus this manifest contradiction is, apparently, “solved”. The solution comes with a […]

Campaign lobbies against rush to criminalise

The Government announced yesterday amendments to the Legal Aid and Sentencing Bill, including a clause to make squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence, with up to 51 weeks imprisonment. They are due to debate and possibly vote on the amendment next Tuesday 1st November in the House of Commons. Yesterday also saw the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) publish their summary of the consultation ‘Options for Dealing with Squatters’ which came to an end on October 5th. There were 2,217 responses and over 90% of responses argued against taking any action on squatting. See this table from the report. The […]

Event: Student solidarity with squatters – 02/11/11

Student solidarity with squatters, in the face of Conservative plans to outlaw occupations…

Labour to back government in support of homeowners despite concerns

Labour will support government moves to outlaw squatting despite concerns that changes to trespass laws could leave thousands of homeless people facing year-long prison sentences and fines of up to £5,000, the Guardian has learned. Sources working for the shadow justice minister said they did not think there was any possibility that the new law would affect sit-ins and occupation protests as previously feared, and they would support the change to show their support for homeowners. Under the government’s new proposals, rushed into the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill, it will become a crime to squat in any residential […]

Why we need to ‘keep squatting legal’, and why ‘guardianship’ is no solution

Over at Ecologist Laura Laker looks at some of the issues around the current housing crisis and how squatting – in this context – poses more solutions than it does problems. “The UK faces a housing crisis, with a growing population and spiralling rental costs made worse by the recent financial crisis. However, where many find it increasingly difficult to buy or even rent, a large number of homes in the UK remain vacant. A Halifax survey published in December 2010 estimated there were 296,000 homes in the UK left empty for more than six months; some estimate as many […]

Government ‘bypasses democracy’ to sneak through anti-squatting laws

Press Release For Immediate Release 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, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders 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 […]

Take a look in at Squatters Town…

Even the briefest reading of history is enough to dismiss the idea that squatting is either a modern phenomenon or a hangover from the 60s and 70s; squatting has always existed as a solution wherever there are people without any other option for decent housing. This newsreel from 1946 is a beautiful example of both how squatting can work and how far the debate has declined…

The Demonisation of Squatters

The following piece is by Vyvian Raoul, guest posting over on io magazine. Raoul is a London-based squatter, and talks here about the demonisation of squatters, political hysteria and why the real scandal is the number of empty properties across the country. News needs to be two things: new and true. In terms of the latter, most of what gets reported about squatting misses the mark somewhat. And, to an extent, it’s understandable: squatters aren’t exactly queuing up to give interviews to the mainstream media, so misconceptions and murkiness, stereotype and sensationalism, abound. But no other area of investigative journalism […]

Inside Housing article: ‘There’s no such thing as squatter’s rights…’

Over on Inside Housing Simon Brandon looks at the Government’s announcement to ‘slam the door on squatting and so-called squatters’ rights‘, and questions what Ministers hope to acheive by criminalising an estimated 20,000 people in the midst of a housing crisis and with local services already stretched to breaking point. Repeat it over and over, like Dorothy declaring ‘there’s no place like home': ‘There’s no such thing as squatters rights’

In defence of squatting

Squatting, a proud tradition in the UK which involves individuals taking over empty/abandoned properties is under threat.

A new government consultation to criminalise squatting in the UK has just ended and any criminalisation plans are likely to be pushed through in the new year.

This isn’t the first time the Tories have tried to criminalise squatting but these current plans couldn’t come at a more crazy time.

Student solidarity… with squatters?

The following post is by Vyvian Raoul, originally posted up on the Counterfire site. Conservative plans to criminalise trespass have wider repercussions than outlawing squatting. Whether it’s an unintended side-effect or a deliberate fringe benefit, imagine the future of protest without occupations. By now, you may have seen the Conservative housing minister, Grant Shapps MP, on Question Time, talking about social housing. No-one asked him for his thoughts on trespass, but some apt questions might have included: how does criminalising squatting help with a housing crisis? Are the 160 property lawyers who signed a letter accusing you of deliberately misleading […]

Grant Shapps and his housing mishaps

Britain’s got [squatted!] Talent

Courtesy of Miss Badchild.

This is where it starts getting lively

In light of Crisis’ new research into squatting and homelessness the government’s proposals for the criminalisation of squatting seems increasingly misguided and wrong.

Yet the ‘consultation’ process has magnificently failed to acknowledge the vast majority of groups who will be affected by the proposed legislation.

Instead the consultation has been directed and addressed only to those who already consider squatting to be a problem.

New research concludes criminalisation of squatting would be criminalising the most vulnerable

Squatting: a homelessness issue , the recent report by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) outlines exactly what the title suggests: far from being a criminal justice issue, squatting should be treated as a housing and welfare issue. The research was undertaken on behalf of homelessness charity Crisis, and reveals squatters to be some of the most vulnerable of all homeless people. Some of the key finding were: Squatting was found to be a common amongst homeless people. 40% of those surveyed had squatted at some point, with 6% on any one night. Homeless people squat out […]