The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has finally made squatting a criminal offence as opposed to one that could only be addressed in the civil courts.
An individual returning from holiday could find his house taken over by squatters. If he called the police to evict trespassers, they would tell the house owner that they had no power to evict them and that he would have to take action through the civil courts for recovery of his own home. Thankfully, this nonsense has been swept away and squatters can now be evicted by the police, taken to court, fined up to a maximum of £5,000 or sent to prison. Of course, the liberal chattering classes will mutter about not punishing the homeless and that the real criminal is the property owner who keeps a house unoccupied. I simply cannot understand this argument which drives a cart and horses through the law of property rights. I do not dispute there is a homelessness crisis in parts of this country but illegally occupying someone’s property cannot be excused or condoned.