Letter to MPs: reject Legal Aid bill amendment

The government has made a sneaky move to rush through the criminalisation of squatting.

An amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to criminalise squatting in residential properties was voted through Parliament on Tuesday 1st November, and the bill is currently passing through the Lords.

We still need to keep the pressure on. Phone your MP, visit their surgery or send them a letter of concern. And if you happen to know a Lord – please get in touch.

You can quickly find your MP’s contact details with this online tool.

More information on the bill and amendments is available for MPs on our website.

You can use this template letter to assist you in writing to them.

Dear …………

I am writing to you to express my concerns about the new amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which criminalises squatting.

Kenneth Clarke has proposed an amendment (clause 26) which would create a new criminal offence of squatting in a residential building.

Like many other people I do not believe that criminalisation is an appropriate method of dealing with squatting. The Government recently carried out a consultation on this subject, but have chosen to ignore the responses they received (both from individuals like myself, and large organisations, e.g. the Metropolitan Police).

The vast majority of respondents stated that the existing legislation is adequate, and expressed strong concerns about the proposals’ effects.

I strongly urge you to vote against the inclusion of clause 26 in the Bill, or consider supporting these amendments written by Crisis as put forward by John McDonnell:

  • That the law only covers residential property left empty for less than 6 months. This is an amendment that Crisis are proposing.
  • That the offence is not applicable in cases where the person is a care leaver or who has in the previous year been registered homeless/at risk.

Yours sincerely,