Campaigners condemn “crazy” squatting law after first person jailed

A 21 year-old man today became the first person to be jailed under section 144, the new law to criminalise squatting in residential properties. Campaigners condemned the move as deeply disproportionate and unjust. Two other individuals have also been convicted and one is being held in prison to await sentencing.

The three were arrested in a Housing Association property in Pimlico on the 2nd September 2012, the day after section 144 came into force. The building had lain empty for over a year. According to his parents, the young man, Alex Haigh, had come to London seeking job opportunities in July. He has been sentenced to twelve weeks in prison.

Rueben Taylor, from Squash (Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes) said:

“This marks a dark day for our country, as a young vulnerable person is being sent to prison simply for trying to keep a roof over his head. The real crime is the 930,000 properties sitting empty across the UK, not the people who are bringing these back into use. This crazy law is aggressively punishing the victims of our housing crisis, at massive cost to the taxpayer.”