Policing & Squatting
Squall 4, April/May 1993, pp. 14-15.
The Leaflet (above) was obtained at King’s Cross Metropolitan Police Station. Issued in conjunction with Islington Borough Council, it is a subtle yet powerful exercise in the mismanagement of truth.
The person who obtained the leaflet for SQUALL was a squatter. Why was he there? Ironically, he was handing in a lost bag that contained credit cards, a cheque book and over one hundred pounds in cash.
Taking the points in turn:
1. The act of squatting is not a criminal (illegal) act.
2. Squatters usually improve the quality of the homes they squat. Once squatted, a property is prevented from falling into disrepair and the threat of vandalism is removed. This is aside from the repairs that the squatters themselves may affect to the building.
3. Squatters do not stop people on waiting lists from being housed. The Criminal Law Act 1977 protects displaced residential occupiers and protected intending occupiers, offering a quick and effective method of repossession. This method, according to all the housing officers and councillors that SQUALL has spoken to, is sufficient.
4. Squatting is not, and at present can never be, a criminal offence. A criminal offence is committed when a person gains access to a property by committing criminal damage, or by refusing to leave a squatted property once a possession order has been obtained by the owner.
By removing the distinction between squatters and criminals, Islington Council and the Metropolitan Police are conspiring in a malicious slander against homeless people who, through lack of options, become squatters.
To balance this appalling lack of judgement SQUALL has produced its own malicious piece of propaganda (see below)...