Britain Squashes Squatters

Squatting has been a rite of passage for British youth since at least the 1960s, but a new law criminalizing the practice, amid a rise in squatters due to the economic crisis, is "upending the rebellious and politically charged British subculture."

Although squatting has typically been viewed as a political or cultural statement in Britain, the practice has been increasing of late due to economic necessity, reports Anthony Faiola, yet as this need grows, "for the first time since the 1970s, squatters at residential properties are facing forcible evictions without court orders, as well as penalties of up $8,000 and six months in jail."  

"Like the outright homeless, Britain's squatter population, experts say, is filling up with those who are slipping between the cracks of the eroding social safety net here, with housing and other benefits for the poor, for instance, being slashed by the Conservative-led government in the middle of a recession."

"Conservative legislator Mike Weatherley, who spearheaded the squatter criminalization law, argues that most squatting is not a question of economic need," writes Faiola. "He said most squatters are occupying property based on antisocial political beliefs. Those in real need of economic assistance, he said, should be aided by charities and the government when necessary."

"A lot of people say that squatting is providing a service, somewhere the homeless can go for shelter," he said. "But why would you want vulnerable people to be housed in unsafe and precarious squats? That is not how a civilized society behaves."

Full Story: As squatters rise again, Britain takes aim with new law criminalizing the practice

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