The letter reads:
It is just over six months since the offence of squatting in a residential building came into force. At the time the offence was proposed, government sources claimed it was necessary as the law “does not support police acting when there are squatters in someone’s home” and that “there are no powers to throw them out”. The signatories to this letter include many of the 160 lawyers who wrote to the Guardian (26 September 2011) pointing out that, as a matter of law, those statements were wrong, as such powers did exist and had done so since the enactment of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
Squatters Action for Secure Homes (Squash) has now published an analysis of how the law has been used in the past six months. Among its findings are that none of the 33 known arrests so far (leading to 10 convictions and three prison sentences) involve the squatters having displaced people from their homes. The properties concerned were all empty. This seems to lead to two conclusions. 1) The concern expressed by the lawyers was correct; the offence was not necessary to protect home occupiers, it is not being used for that purpose. 2) Instead, the effect of it has been to facilitate keeping properties empty, despite the current housing crisis, rather than meeting the purpose for which it was claimed to be necessary.
Squash is calling for the repeal of squatting provisions. We would associate ourselves with that request
Andrew Arden QC Arden Chambers Giles Peaker Solicitor Anthony Gold Chair, Housing Law Practitioners Association David Watkinson Barrister (retired – door tenant of Garden Court Chambers) Nik Antoniades Solicitor, Shelter Amy Clements Solicitor, Southwark Law Centre Deirdre Forster Solicitor, Powell Forster Kay Foxall Solicitor, Southwark Law Centre Matthew Goldborough Solicitor, Cleveland & Co Kathy Karavas Solicitor, South West London Law Centre Mike McIlvaney Solicitor, Community Law Partnership Greg Powell Powell Forster Sara Stephens Solicitor, Anthony Gold Bernard Lo Barrister, Field Court Chambers David Carter Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers Emily Orme Barrister, Arden Chambers Abigail Bache, Dr Timothy Baldwin, John Beckley, Liz Davies, Helen Ford, Owen Greenhall, Sean Horstead, Catrin Lewis, Stephen Marsh, Keir Monteith, Terry Munyard, Michael Paget, David Renton Marc Willers Barristers at Garden Court Chambers Dr Stephen Battersby Environmantal health & housing consultant, Chair, Pr-Housing Alliance Professor David Cowan University of Bristol and Arden Chambers Joanna Kennedy Chief Executive, Zaccheus 2000 Trust David Thomas Solicitor, Anthony Gold Mike O’Dwyer Solicitor, Philcox Gray Tony Martin Solicitor South West Law London Law Centres Christopher Dawkins Housing adviser, CCP Cheltenham 1st Stop David Foster Solicitor, Foster& Foster Eva Chrysostomou Solicitor, Southwark Law Centre Kristin Heimark Barrister, Holborn Chambers