Are squatting reform proposals causing confusion?
An ongoing consultation is considering the introduction of new laws to make squatting a criminal offence. Jon Robins, writing for Lexis Nexis Current Awareness (published 12/10/11) talked to James Stark of GCN, a housing specialist, about why a recent campaign has called on the government not to criminalise squatting.
Extracts from the article as follows:
âThe consultation paper lists five options,â notes Stark. âOne option is to create a new offence of squatting in buildings. Then there are existing offences under the Criminal Law Act 1977 and theyâre also looking at whether or not one of those offences can be expanded.â Section 7 of the legislation provides that any person who is on residential premises as a trespasser and fails to leave on being required to do so by or on behalf of a âdisplaced residential occupierâ or someone who is âa protected intending occupierâ is guilty of a criminal offence.
Stark says: âThe problem at the moment is that we simply do not enforce the offence. In my experience police simply say: âit is a civil matter and you have to go to the County Court and sort it out. We are not interestedâ.â
Another issue that âthe government does not seem to address in the consultation paperâ, according to the barrister, is art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. âIt is in breach of an individualâs human rights to interfere with their rights in respect of their home unless you can show it is pursuing a legitimate aim and that it is necessary and proportionate to do so,â he says
> The full article can be found on under Current Awareness on the Lexis Nexis network (subscription only) ref: LNB News 12/10/2011 98 "Are Squatting Reform Proposals Causing Confusion?". Click here to sign in if you have an account.