Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2012.
LASPO is an act which was brought in to make new provisions regarding legal aid, the issuing of penalty notices for disorderly behaviour, the sentencing of offenders and their employment while in prison and release on license and to create new offences, including a new offence relating to squatting and one relating to payment for scrap metal among other amendments, etc. For more information, see our article on squatting and the law under “Civil Law”.
Section 144 – Offence of squatting in a residential building
Following numerous scare-stories in various newspapers over a period of 2 years or so, the Government finally managed to bring in a law to ban squatting. The law only bans squatting in residential properties (which are defined in the law itself) and not squatting in buildings which are non-residential (pubs, warehouses, etc.) Please see our separate article for legal warnings which can be made visible on doors, windows, etc. if you have squatted a building and want to make your rights known – it is not a legal requirement to do so, but can help protect your rights in some cases.
(1)A person commits an offence if:
(a)the person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser,
(b)the person knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser, and
(c)the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.
(2)The offence is not committed by a person holding over after the end of a lease or licence (even if the person leaves and re-enters the building).
(3)For the purposes of this section—
(a)“building” includes any structure or part of a structure (including a temporary or moveable structure), and
(b)a building is “residential” if it is designed or adapted, before the time of entry, for use as a place to live.
(4)For the purposes of this section the fact that a person derives title from a trespasser, or has the permission of a trespasser, does not prevent the person from being a trespasser.
(5)A person convicted of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (or both).
(6)In relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the reference in subsection (5) to 51 weeks is to be read as a reference to 6 months.
(7)For the purposes of subsection (1)(a) it is irrelevant whether the person entered the building as a trespasser before or after the commencement of this section.
(8)In section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (entry for purpose of arrest etc)—
(a)in subsection (1)(c), after sub-paragraph (v) insert—
“(vi)section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (squatting in a residential building);”;
(b)in subsection (3), for “or (iv)” substitute “ , (iv) or (vi) ”.
(9)In Schedule 10 to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (consequential amendments), omit paragraph 53(b).
Fighting LASPO S144
Posted on September 4, 2012 by squatterslegalnetwork
Section 144 of the LASPO bill came into effect on September the 1st, making squatting in residential buildings a criminal offence. The Advisory Service for Squatters has produced new legal warnings for squatters, including one for non-residential buildings and a specific one for pubs. Check their website for more info www.squatter.org.uk .
*Be aware that the Section 6 legal warning is now incriminating if you are in a building that is or could be argued to be residential, so it’s best to take them down.*
The Squatters Legal Network will work to track the new law – how it is enforced by the Police and how it is dealt with in the Courts. and will aim to provide legal support to those arrested and charged under the new law. If you or anyone you know has any contact with the Police concerning the new law (LASPO S144) please get in contact with the Squatters Legal Network with as much information as possible. If arrested, as always, we suggest you say NO COMMENT to all questions and during interview.
Below is a list of questions to provide us with the information that we need – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your info and contacts.
- Address of property involved?
- How long have the occupiers been there? Any kind of licence or authorisation?
- Who has acted against them? Someone claiming to be an owner? Someone else
- Police involvement? Names and badge numbers of any officers? Which police station?
- Who does own it? Or have rights to possession
- Is it wholly residential?
- When did the incident happen? Date and time?
- Any other people involved
- Was anyone arrested? Do we know who/ what for?
- Exact time/ arresting officer?
- Contact details for any witnesses to the arrest?
- Has anyone been charged? If so, with what?
- Have they been granted bail or kept in?
- Have any solicitors been contacted/ taken on the case? Contact details for them?
- How do we (eg ASS/SLN) contact the occupiers themselves?
- Alternative contact details in case they lose their phone?
- Any other helpful witnesses who we may want to contact later?
- Any other issues/ support needed (eg reclaiming possessions, filing complaints etc)?