Squatting – a criminal offence

03/09/2012

The headlines suggest that the government are on the side of homeowners as on the 1st September 2012 squatting in residential buildings will now become a criminal offence thanks to Section 144 of the Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act, Homeowners will no doubt rejoice in the fact that the government appears to be tackiling a problem that often makes headlines whilst those speaking for the homeless state that it will target the vulnerable. However, this conveniently ignores the fact that squatting in residential premises has been an offence since 1977 and Section 7 of the Criminal Law Act which makes it an offence to stay in residential property once asked to leave by the owner.
 
Have the government gone for the headline grabbing or are the Police to be given extra resources to deal with an issue that maybe seen  as a rare problem? There is certainly an argument to suggest that the current law is adequate and the new law merely adds regulation and is superfluous.

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