Below is the government’s amended clause to criminalise squatting in the legal aid and sentencing bill.
“The new offence will be committed where a person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser, knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser and is living in the building or intends to live there for any period”. This translates into the following wording for the purposes of the law;
- ‘(1) A person commits an offence if
- (a) the person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser,
- (b) the person knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser, and
- (c) the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.
- (2) The offence is not committed by a person holding over after the end of a lease or licence (even if the person leaves and re-enters the building).
- (3) For the purposes of this section—
- (a) “building” includes any structure or part of a structure (including a temporary or moveable structure), and
- (b) a building is “residential” if it is designed or adapted, before the time of entry, for use as a place to live.
- (4) For the purposes of this section the fact that a person derives title from a trespasser, or has the permission of a trespasser, does not prevent the person from being a trespasser.
- (5) A person convicted of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (or both).
- (6) In relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the reference in subsection (5) to 51 weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.
- (7) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) it is irrelevant whether the person entered the building as a trespasser before or after the commencement of this section.’
Crisis has proposed amendments to this clause, which aim to reduce the impact on vulnerable people and to reduce buildings being left empty in a housing crisis.
These amendments, tabled by John McDonnell, need support from as many MPs as possible before the scheduled debates and vote on Tuesday 1st November.
They aim to reduce the impact on vulnerable people, and reduce the number of buildings left empty in the housing crisis.
Send them to your MP today.
Amendments to New Clause 26
Amendment – Exempting long term empty properties that are not being brought back into use
As an amendment to New Clause 26
“Insert new subclause (2A)
“(2A) The offence is not committed where the building has been empty for 6 months or more and where there are no significant steps being taken to refurbish, let or sell the building at the time of the trespass.””
This amendment would mean that squatting remains a civil matter in all buildings that have been left empty long term and are not being brought back into use, while ensuring that residential buildings that have been recently lived in or are being brought back into use would be covered by the new criminal law.
Amendment – Exempting homeless and particularly vulnerable people from the new criminal offence of squatting in a residential building As an amendment to New Clause 26 “Insert new subclause (2AA) “(2AA) The offence is not committed in cases where the person: (a) has been a resident of a homelessness hostel in the previous year (b) has been a resident of a homelessness nightshelter in the previous year (c) has been a resident of a women’s refuge in the previous year (d) has been found rough sleeping by a local authority or voluntary sector outreach team or by a statutory agency in the previous year (e) has received mental health treatment in a residential setting in the previous year (f) is a care leaver”” This amendment would exempt from committing a criminal offence when squatting in a residential building a number of groups whose housing in the previous year suggests particular vulnerability or homelessness. It also exempts care leavers. Amendment – Replace subclause (7) with the words: “For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) no offence is committed if the person initially entered the building as a trespasser before the commencement of this section.”