The Evening Standard Hates Romanians

Evening Standard Front Page Campaign to Criminalise Squatting

Here we go again. Yet another foul, bordering-on-racist article in the Evening Standard, who quite clearly hate all squatters and it seems all Eastern Europeans – especially Romanians.

Friday’s article on new figures released via an FOI request submitted to the Metropolitan Police (our first request was turned down when we were writing our report) claims that 45% of all squatters arrested in London, since the introduction of new legislation which criminalised squatting in residential properties last September, are from Romania.

It is unsurprising that migrants who will not have English as a first language are being adversely affected by the new law. SQUASH have said all along this legislation punishes the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society – everyone who has gone to jail so far were all previously homeless.

Martin Bentham, the Evening Standard journalist who wrote the article claims “The Met figures will fuel the debate about the impact of the scrapping next year of migration controls which limit the right of Romanians and Bulgarians to work in Britain.”

By focusing on the national origin and migrant status of the people arrested, the Evening Standard are seeking to provoke a xenophobic reaction and to delegitimise squatting as often a better option for people experiencing homelessness

The truth is that there is no evidence to suggest the UK squatting population, estimated to be 20,000 – 50,000, is largely a Romanian population. And for the record, squatters aren’t bad people lurking in the shadows waiting to steal your house when you go out to the shop to buy a pint of milk. There was already existing legislation to prevent squatters from moving into someone’s lived in home, or a house someone intended to move into. This has been stated clearly on numerous occasions by MP’s, Lords and The Law Society. The Evening Standard choose to ignore this every time.

It is also worth noting, as mentioned in an Early Day Motion tabled on Friday calling for a repeal of the new law, that to our knowledge zero people arrested so far have been caught in someone else’s home – the whole basis on which the likes of the Evening Standard campaigned for the law in the first place. They have all been in empty properties, of which there are now over 1 million in the UK.

Fresh calls in the article for an extension of the scope of the law to cover commercial properties are nonsensical, and don’t take into account the housing and homelessness crisis we are currently facing.

Last month, Daniel Gauntlett died outside of an empty bungalow after media reports suggested the police stopped him from squatting it because of the new law. This story was not reported in the mainstream press but yet this latest rubbish from the Evening Standard even made it on the BBC London News. The mainstream media reporting on squatting need to get a grip. And some perspective.