The response to the consultation on squatting came out today and of the 2,200 respondents, more than 2,100 were in favour of NOT criminalising squatting. Showing yet again that the 1% do not give a shit about the 99% (or, ok in this case, to use the real figures, it's the 4% versus 96% ), the Government is simply going to push through the law anyway.
This is the gist of the proposal (from page 36 of the consultation report):
"The new offence will be committed where a person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser, knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser and is living in the building or intends to live there for any period". NOTE1
The proposal has been added to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is a rubbish bit of legislation planning to take away the previously automatic right of those who cannot afford it to have their legal representation paid for. This short-sighted Conservative plan to save money by fucking over those people who cannot afford lawyers will most likely work out more expensive for everyone in the long term. NOTE2
Sneaking in an amendment is a blatant attempt to push through the criminalisation of squatting, despite there being no consensus on whether this would actually be a good idea. Certainly homelessness charities are against it (NOTE 3) and lawyers think it is unworkable (NOTE 4). In the response itself, High Court Enforcement Officers, the Criminal Bar Association, the Law Society, the Magistrates’ Association, the University and College Union and the National Union of Students all expressed concerns about criminalisation.
But it's clear the way things are headed: the day BEFORE the consultation had even ended, Mad Mike Weatherley recorded that Clarke has promised to criminalise squatting in a keynote speech!! NOTE5
In recent days there have been lots of positive squatting news such as the tour by Dutch squatters, the Okasional Cafe in Manchester, the Plebs' College in Oxford, Offmarket in London and new squats in Brighton. This just goes to show that there is still life in the counter culture and that there are things worth fighting for. NOTE 6
Fuck the law!! Squat the lot!!
You can download the consultation response as pdf-
Legal aid bill-
Legal aid cuts will cause courts logjam, warn top judges (Guardian)-
Current status of legal aid bill-
True plight of squatters exposed by research
Squatting law is being misrepresented to aid ministers' reforms, claim lawyers
Ken Clarke Confirms Squatting Law Change After Backing Mike-
Dutch squatters - http://squat.net/2011/10/20/whatever-they-say-squatting-will-stay-squatting-in-the-netherlands/
OK - http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/10/487473.html
Plebs - http://plebscollege.wordpress.com/
Offmarket - http://london.indymedia.org/groups/offmarket