Figure 1: Squatter’s gather secretly to share food and plan resistance to government attacks on housing
As you might have heard, the U.K. government wants to pass a new law to make some types of squatting illegal….
Don’t Panic! Squatting is Still Legal
- The law has not changed yet. It is still going through parliament and will have to be voted on in Parliament , first in the House of Commons (that vote happened at the end of last year; they gave us just six days of notice!) and then it has to be reviewed by the House of Lords (that’s happening now in Early 2012). If the House of Lords change it at all then it has to go back to the House of Commons.
- If the law passes in both houses of Parliament then the earliest it could begin is April 2012. Even then the law will still have to be tested in court against human rights standards.
- As it is now written the proposed law would only affect squatting in residential buildings. Squatting in commercial buildings like empty warehouses that are not in use will still be legal.
Remember that in most parts of the world all types of squatting is outlawed but it still happens.
For more information see http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news794.php
How to beat the proposed anti-squatting law? Step 1. Head it off in Parliament by letting people know why this law is unnecessary, unfair, and unaffordable. This means putting a good face on squatting and outmanoeuvring the nasty newspapers. Three KEY MESSAGES and some basic facts that the public needs to know about the proposed anti-squatting laws
- “The new law being proposed is completely unnecessary. The laws that already exist are fully adequate to deal with squatting. It is already a criminal offence to squat an occupied home”
- Even the Police and the Law Society have stated the existing laws are adequate and the new laws are media driven.
- “New law will effectively criminalise the homeless in the middle of a housing crisis. Criminalisation of squatting will keep properties empty which will make matters worse for empty homes and the homeless.”
- There are seven hundred thousand empty properties in England and Wales while homelessness is currently increasing because of cuts to public services and housing support.
- “The proposals will be really expensive and unaffordable and will place a financial burden on the government, the Police, the judiciary and homelessness and housing providers. All during a time of austerity measures.”
- SQUASH estimates the cost of criminalizing squatting could be one billion£ over five years.
Step 2. Take direct action. Join up with your fellow squatters to plan dramatic action that lets government, the police & landlords know we won’t be made homeless! Tips: cooperate, link up, share plans with others to build better actions. Remember, more than just squatters are threatened so let’s link up with others who are losing their housing.
Step 3. Resist evictions and build stronger squatter networks. In many places around the world squatting is totally illegal and yet it still happens!
Organisations, tips, web links, and advice for squatters
Advisory Service for Squatters
84b Whitechapel High St
London E1 7QX
Phone: 020 3216 0099
Fax: 020 3216 0098
Squatter’s Action for Secure Homes (SQUASH) is a campaign group of squatters working to stop the criminalisation of squatting. To get involved see their website http://www.squashcampaign.org
Squatters call Info phone 07895107544. Send journalists to Press Phone 07415516105.
Squattastic is a London-wide meeting of Squatters usually happening on a Sunday afternoon with information, discussion, and workshops. Usually there is a dinner party in the evening. For information on when the next meeting will happen see http://squattastic.blogspot.com
To get on the squattastic email list contact firstname.lastname@example.org or come to a dinner party.
Practical Squatters Evenings happen on most Tuesday evenings. These are a chance to meet people, find squats, find squat-mates, get information, and get practical advice (plumbing, legal support, etc.) On the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month they happen in South London at 56a Infoshop [56 Crampton Street, London SE17 3AE (near Elephant & Castle)] and on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month they happen in North London at LARC 62 Fieldgate street whitechapel, London E1 1ES
North London http://nelsn.wordpress.com
South London http://www.56a.org.uk/squatpract.html
Squatters on Facebook
“I used to squat and I don’t want it criminalized” Link http://on.fb.me/xFT5cJ
Other webinfo for squatters
Squatters Network of Brighton and Hove http://network23.org/snob
Bristol housing action movement: email@example.com
Squatter bulletin boards allow squatters to leave messages, meet squat mates or find squats. There are Squatter bulletin boards at these Social Centres in London:
- ASS, 84b Whitechapel High St, London E1 7QX http://www.squatter.org.uk
- 56a Infoshop, 56 Crampton Street, London SE17 3AE http://www.56a.org.uk
- Pogo Café, 76 Clarence Road, London, E5 8HB http://www.pogocafe.co.uk/
Get a copy of the Squatter’s Handbook (available at the above locations).