Squatting now a criminal offence in the UK

In a letter to the Editor of the Guardian in the UK  Bob Baker, Director of The Simon Community, which has worked with the poor and homeless in the UK since 1963, criticises a new UK policy which criminalises squatting, although over a million properties remain empty in the face of a housing crisis.

It is difficult to grasp the thinking behind the fierce application of this iniquitous law. Clearly it can only swell both the numbers of people experiencing homelessness and the population of our already overcrowded prisons. In addition, the consequences of handing out criminal records to people whose behaviour up until this month has been completely outside the criminal law, will blight lives and destroy the reputations of potentially thousands of ordinary people. Despite attempts to demonise those who take empty houses back into use, the truth is that the majority of squatters are responsible people who, in a time of realhousing crisis, squat as a last ditch attempt to prevent homelessness.

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