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SQUASH Publications

“Squatting Statistics 2015” (May 2016) – Version 2.0


SQUASH’s update on enforcement & impact of of section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (s144 LASPOA), up to the end of 2015, which finds:

  • Arrests – There were at least 148 arrests under s144 LASPOA in 2015. This brings the total confirmed arrests to date to 736 people since 2012. An average of 160 people are being arrested every year. 50-60% of those arrested were charged with the offence and half were remanded in police custody before first hearing at a Magistrates Court.
  • Prosecuted – Prosecutions of section 144 offences has been rising year on year since 2012, and is currently averaging around 13 prosecutions a month, up from 10 in 2014-15, according to Crown Prosecution Service data. This brings the total number of section 144 prosecutions brought for a first hearing at a Magistrates court since 2012 to 326;
  • Convictions – there were 69 convictions out of 87 Prosecutions in 2015, with the most popular sentences being Fines (51%), Conditional Discharges (20%) and Community Sentences (10%). However 3 people were imprisoned for section 144 in 2015, and the figure since 2012 is estimated to be 11 sent to prison.

To read the full “Squatting Statistics 2015 – version 2.0” (SQUASH & Streets Kitchen, May 2016) reports, check:

“Squatting Statistics 2015” webpagesummary & links

PDF Files

On Scrib, online viewing portal –

“Homes, Not Jails” (April 2015)


SQUASH’s 28-month review of the effects of section 144 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (s144 LASPOA) which found that for the period September 2012 to January 2015:

  • There have been at least 588 arrests, 200 prosecutions and 51 convictions under s144 LASPOA, with 75% of those arrests occurring in London.
  • Case studies and statistics show that the police use s144 LASPOA in an arbitrary manner to summarily evict people suspected of squatting, without sufficient evidence.
  • Those prosecuted have been men and women, aged between 21 and 41, the exact demographic that is bearing the brunt of Britain’s housing crisis
  • Most evictions and arrests under s144 LASPOA occurred during the Winter months (October – March), endangering the lives and well-being of those thrown out into the cold.
  • Calls by politicians and mainstream media, to extend the criminalisation of squatting to commercial buildings, threatens to create housing instability for many more young people.
To read the full “Homes, Not Jails” & “Appendix”(SQUASH, 2015) reports, check:
PDF Files –

On Scrib, online viewing portal –


“The Case Against Section 144” (March 2013)


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.
To Read the “The Case Against section 144” (SQUASH, 2013) report, check:
PDF File –

On Scrib, online viewing portal –


“Can We Afford To Criminalise Squatting?” (2012)

SQUASH has collected and analysed information regarding the current housing crisis, empty properties and squatting in order to assess the financial implications of criminalising squatting in England and Wales, through Clause 136 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
Can We Afford to Criminalise Squatting?” shows that the cost of criminalising squatting could reach £790 million in the first 5 years. This would more than wipe out the £350m savings intended to be made by the Legal Aid Bill it comes in.
To Read the “Can We Afford to Criminalise Squatting?” (SQUASH, 2012) report, check:

PDF File –

On Scrib, online viewing portal –



“Criminalising the Vulnerable: Why we can’t criminalise our way out of a housing crisis” (May 2011)

SQUASH parliamentary briefing. An outline of the problems surrounding the proposed criminalisation of squatting. This was presented in Parliament at the public launch of the Squash campaign 18 May 2011.
Download PDF 1.9mb »

SQUASH Policy Briefings

SQUASH Clause 136 Lords Report Stage Amendments briefing – March 2012:
Download PDF 90kb »

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, Clause 136: Lords Briefing Summary (2 pages)- February 2012:
“SQUASH is concerned about the impacts of criminalising squatting in residential properties on homeless and vulnerable people, as proposed by Clause 136, formerly 130. We believe that it is unjust, unnecessary, and unaffordable, and call on the Lords to oppose its inclusion in the Bill.”
Download PDF 110kb »

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, Clause 130: Full Lords Briefing (10 pages) – December 2011: “SQUASH is deeply concerned about the impacts of criminalising squatting in residential properties on homeless and vulnerable people, as proposed by Clause 130. We believe that it is unjust, unnecessary, and unaffordable, and call on the Lords to oppose its inclusion in the Bill.”
Download PDF 180kb »

SQUASH response to government consultation on squatting – October 2011: Download PDF 140kb »

SQUASH Factsheets, FAQ & Case Studies

SQUASH Frequently Asked Questions
Download PDF 86kb


SQUASH Factsheet
Download PDF 95kb »

Squatting Case Studies (2011):
Back in 2011, the SQUASH research group put together a list of case studies for internal use only. Listing squats, old and new, and their relevance to key messages, this PDF is now being made public, as a resource to others. Thanks to all who put this together.

SQUASH Case Studies version 1.1 (2011) – Download PDF

SQUASH 1990 Reports

SQUASH in the 1990’sTaken from a statement of someone who was there

“SQUASH was a group of squatters that organized against the criminalization of squatting in the 90s. They produced various different things many of which are filed at 56a. […]
They produced a typed and stapled ‘media pamphlet’/ detailed press briefing. It had a contents page that covered all the relative topics (homelessness facts, situation with hostels etc…) and then went into more detailed analysis on these topics. […]
They collated testimonials and quotes from various different organizations who [took] issue with the criminalization of squatting [… including]SHELTER (Carol Grant), CHAR Housing Campaign for Single People, SHAC, Institute of Housing, Association of Metropolitan Authorities, The Metropolitan Police Force (pointed out that it would be a drain on their resources, and particular spokesperson wondered whether he would feel ‘right’ about forcing someone to leave a building if they were living there peacefully), Police Federation, Liberty, and The Law Society.

They [SQUASH] then produced an informative, official, glossy-ish magazine in response to the 1991 Home Office Consultation on Squatting. It was aimed at MPs, to try and provide them with some of the facts and figures around squatting that the consultation misrepresented or failed to acknowledge, and thus open up an alternative discourse. SQUASH brought together some of the different arguments against the criminalization of squatting through partly (i presume) their own research, and partly through other organizations and groups that would be affected by the changes. […The] SQUASH magazine:

  • *Announces ‘squatting is a sympton of Britains housing crisis and not a law and order issue’
  • *Applying public order laws to housing rights has serious implications.

Bob Hughes MP Speaking on the London Programme May 1989:

“I want to help those responsible people who have put themselves into accommodation because they have seen that it is empty. I think it is fair to say that very deep in conservative philosophy is that of self-help and if people are prepared to try and help themselves and if they see a property is empty and no-one is using it and by moving in they are not going to hurt anyone, but they will protect and help their own family, surely we ought to encourage that… you could argue they are perhaps more socially responsible in finding empty property and squatting in there and giving their family a home than putting them in a B+B.”

[Resources from the 1990 Campaign:]

1) The first is the Home Office Research paper relating to the CJPO Bill squatting provisions (written Jan 1994). It was more or less what I was hoping to find in that it shows the main arguments why the Government didn’t crim up [sic] squatting altogether even though it was raving about it. Pages 3-6 show a picture, at the time, of the ‘extent of the problem’ (SQUASH with some data); but perhaps the most juicy bit is pages 11-13. It shows that responses from Shelter (‘mate, housing!’), the Law Centres Federation and the Law Society (‘mate, landlord’s have plenty of rights’) and ACPO and the police (‘we don’t have the resources’) all made it to the research paper and, to my mind, must have deterred the government from going all out. […]

2) The second [“Taxonomies of Squatting”] is a fairly ‘critical’ and scholarly article looking at legal responses to squatting. It’s a bit long-winded, but there are some important angles expressed in pages 5-11. The highlights are some significant data and argumentation, as well as a superficial analysis of the legal responses in ‘criminal’ and ‘housing’ terms. […]

3) “The Forgotten Homeless” (1992) – Four-page Info sheet with data on the types of people squatting and the case against criminalisation.

“Ordered Out: Public Order and Housing Chaos” (1994)

A briefing on the effects of The Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill on the rights of squatters, tenants and the homeless. Published in 1994.
Download PDF 7.1mb »

“A Crime to be Homeless” (1994)

Squash publication from 1994. A briefing on the criminalisation of squatting.
Download pdf 2.2mb


Government publications

Ministry of Justice Response to 2011 Squatting Consultation Paper

Download PDF 0.2mb »


Other research

Squatting: a homelessness issue – An evidence review by Crisis, October 2011

The Hidden Truth About Homelessness – Crisis report, May 2011

Liberal Democrat Action for Land Taxation and Economic Reform
Squatting Consultation Response

“The Conservative Justice Minister Crispin Blunt has launched a consultation which proposes that squatting in all properties should be criminalized.

“Surely this is in our best interests? ALTER says not, and has explained why in its answer to the consultation. This change is contrary to the interests of UK taxpayers. It would provide a valuable state funded benefit to wealthy tax avoiders.” [On Scribd]

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.