The Case Against section 144
SQUASH has collected and analysed information to produce a six-month impact analysis of the criminalisation of squatting in residential properties (S144, Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, 2012). Relevant literature and reports on the current housing crisis, empty properties, homelessness and squatting in England and Wales have been used to provide a context for a wider analysis of the after-effects of S144. The report is divided into four key sections, namely:
1] Undemocratic: the process that led to this new criminal law
2] Unjust: exposing the irrefutable link between squatting and homelessness,
3] Unnecessary: the adequacy of the Criminal Law Act 1977, concerns about the enforcement and the lack of data being collected.
4] Unaffordable: taking into account direct (e.g. evictions, arrests and prosecutions) and indirect (e.g. rehabilitation and housing benefits) enforcement costs.
Download the report (PDF 890kb)
SQUASH Frequently Asked Questions Download PDF 86kb »
Ministry of Justice Response to 2011 Squatting Consultation Paper
Squatting: a homelessness issue – An evidence review by Crisis, October 2011
The Hidden Truth About Homelessness – Crisis report, May 2011
Empty Properties Survey – The University of Nottingham Survey Unit and East Midlands Empty Property Forum, May 2008
Empty Homes Agency Database – “737,491 empty homes are currently empty in England according to the 2011 Empty Homes Stats! The latest empty homes statistics show that of these, 300,000 are long-term empty (meaning they have been empty for more than six months).”
Squatting: The Real Story (Chapters 1 – 7) – Book about Squatting history
Colin Ward’s The hidden history of Housing – Explores “aspects of the history of housing, in terms of housing based on local and popular initiative, self-help and mutual aid.”
In the media
Media and politicians are misleading about law on squatters The Observer, September 2011
“We are legal academics, solicitors and barristers who practise in housing law acting for landlords, tenants, owners and occupiers. We are concerned that a significant number of recent media reports have stated that squatters who refuse to leave someone’s home are not committing a criminal offence and that a change in the law – such as that proposed by the government – is needed to rectify this situation.
“This is legally incorrect, as the guidance published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in March this year makes clear. We are concerned that such repeated inaccurate reporting of this issue has created fear for homeowners, confusion for the police and ill informed debate among both the public and politicians on reforming the law.”
Hackney GP backs squatters fighting eviction from abandoned school Hackney Gazette, July 2011
“When our neighbours started squatting last month, they introduced themselves to us and invited us around to see what they were doing with the building and grounds.
“We were delighted to see that they are taking care of where they are living and considerate of us, their next-door neighbours. For the first time since we have been living here, we have the security of neighbours we can trust.
“I believe that to evict them and use council money to pay security guards to man the gates while the building rots would be criminal, if not in the legal sense, then most certainly morally.” ‘Squatting is the perfect example of the Big Society’ The Independent, May 2011
“Squatters tend to occupy long-term empties often owned by absentee property speculators registered in offshore tax havens. To criminalise squatting would protect only one set of people: the greedy and the powerful who can afford to keep property empty.”
Squatting related sites
Squat or Rot – Blog documenting numerous squats, past and present. The great improvements made to buildings and communities by the squatters and their projects is more than evident.