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LASPO Lords Briefing by SQUASH

LASPO Lords Briefing by SQUASH

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Published by squashcampaign
Squash (Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes) is deeply concerned about the impacts of criminalising squatting in residential properties on homeless and vulnerable people, as proposed by Clause 130 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Bill. We believe that Clause 130 is unjust, unnecessary, and unaffordable, and call on the Lords to oppose its inclusion in the Bill.
Squash (Squatters’ Action for Secure Homes) is deeply concerned about the impacts of criminalising squatting in residential properties on homeless and vulnerable people, as proposed by Clause 130 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Bill. We believe that Clause 130 is unjust, unnecessary, and unaffordable, and call on the Lords to oppose its inclusion in the Bill.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: squashcampaign on Jan 24, 2012
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07/10/2013

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House o Lords Brieng Paper
with respect to the Legal Aid Bill Clause 130 
December 2011
IntroductIon
Squash (Squatters’ Action or Secure Homes)is deeply concerned about the impacts o criminalising squatting in residential propertieson homeless and vulnerable people, as proposedby Clause 130 o the Legal Aid, Sentencing,and Punishment o Oenders Bill. We believethat Clause 130 is unjust, unnecessary, andunaordable, and call on the Lords to opposeits inclusion in the Bill.
 About SQuASH
SQUASH (Squatters’ Action or SecureHomes) is a campaigning organisation which,since the early 1990s, has worked to protectsquatters and other vulnerably housed people. We are undertaking extensive research intothe impacts o the proposed criminalisationo squatting. As part o this we are gatheringthe views and experiences o squatters andothers who are at risk o being impacted. We campaign to raise awareness o theseimpacts and give voice to squatters and othersexperiencing insecure housing. SQUASHare in a unique position as one o the only organisations researching squatting in the UK rom within the diverse world o squattingitsel. It has been recognised as such rom thebeginning, with SQUASH research quotedextensively within the Home Oce ResearchPaper 94/1 in 1994. Our broader aim is toprovide resources or the achievement o securehousing or all.
 
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House of Lords Brieng Paper
ExEcutIvE SummAry 
Squash (Squatters’ Action or Secure Homes) is concerned about theimpacts o criminalising squatting in residential properties on homeless andvulnerable people, and believe that Clause 130 is unnecessary, unworkable,and unaordable.
1. ba  case 130
Clause 130 seeks to criminalise those who enter a residential property as atrespasser with the intention o staying there.It was introduced into the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment o 
Oenders Bill (‘Legal Aid Bill’) at the third reading in the House o Commons, meaning it has not gone through a Committee stage or seriousdebate in the Commons.Te clause was introduced ollowing a consultation, “Options or Dealing
 with Squatters”, in which 96% o respondents opposed criminalisation.
2. veae pepe, heessess a eas’ ihs
Squatting is a last resort or many people who nd themselves homeless.Research has shown that 40% o homeless people have used squatting tohouse themselves and avoid street sleeping. Clause 130 will expose vulnerablepeople to the criminal law, and leave many with no option but to sleep rough. We also believe that Clause 130 is likely to be abused by landlords seeking toevict those with insecure tenancies quickly and cheaply.
3. Ep ppeies
Te new oences will only make a substantive legal dierence in the case o buildings which are empty and unused.Te number o empty properties in the UK is widely acknowledged as deeply problematic, and squatting is in part symptomatic o this situation.Te government is currently working on a new Empty Homes Strategy, and we believe that squatting should be treated within that ramework, ratherthan within the current Legal Aid Bill.
 
3
House of Lords Brieng Paper
4. ueessa e iia a 
Te inclusion o Clause 130 directly contradicts the coalition’s overarchingpolicy agreement not to create “unnecessary new laws”. Residential occupiersare already adequately protected rom trespass under the Criminal Law Act1977, and both the Criminal Bar Association and the Law Society oppose theintroduction o a new criminal oence or squatting precisely or this reason.Te negative impact on vulnerable people o Clause 130 means that thisunnecessary new criminal law is not benign.
5. uaii a s 
Supporting ex-squatters through housing benets or homelessness provision would be a burden on the public purse at a time o welare cuts.Te Metropolitan Police stated in their response to the Ministry o Justicesconsultation on squatting that the changes would cause unnecessary expenseand drain resources.Establishing whether or not someone is breaking the law will be extremely complex, given the intricacies o tenancy contracts and o property classications which designate a property as “residential” or not. It is unjustto remove the settlement o such disputes rom the purview o the courts andincreases the likelihood o illegal evictions.
6. respeie iiaisai
Clause 130 proposes to criminalise existing squatters. SQUASH believe thatretrospective criminalisation o squatters would undermine a undamentaltenet o English Law and the more recent Human Rights Act.

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