First conviction under new law

The Schnews article is below, there’s also reports from nearlylegal, andy worthington and guardian which are worth reading, unlike the right-wing press.

The first squatter to be sentenced under the new squatting law has been imprisoned for twelve weeks after being arrested in a long-term empty flat in Islington, London on 2nd September.

21-year-old Alex Haigh had been living in the property for a couple of months before the law came into force, along with other squat-mates – two of whom are now facing the strong arm of law too. One received a fine while the other is awaiting sentence and a possible jail term. A long way from media caricatures of long-haired posh drop outs – Alex is an apprentice bricklayer from Plymouth and had moved to London looking for work

Neighbours had been unaware of the flat being occupied, while the owners, a London housing association, had known and independently started civil proceedings under the old system.

This didn’t stop the pigs taking it on themselves to batter down the door and arrest the occupiers – only informing the owners afterwards. Since the government passed the bill, ministers have been urging the Met to come down hard on squatters to act as a ‘deterrent’. The government says it expects around 4,200 squatters to be prosecuted each year. What’s a few ruined lives when there are vacant buildings at risk of being occupied eh?

Danny Beltane of SNOB(aha) the Brighton squatters association. “This is a far harsher sentence than anyone expected – this smacks of the kind of punitive sentencing handed out after the riots. This is the real class war. How can they justify taking someone from a situatuation where they were provoding for themselves and forcing them into state incarceration at the cost of thousands a week?”

STREET’S AHEAD

Alex and his friends were arrested around 24 hours before the first raid in Brighton that SchNEWS reported on, though overall the earliest eviction we know about (so far) was of a crew based in Street, Somerset. Despite living there for a couple of months and not causing any problems, bored local cops decided to kick in the door and arrest everyone inside at 9am on Saturday 1st September. If anyone can prove they were nicked under section 144 earlier, we’ll send them a free graphics book.

With the wild variations in enforcement – stretching from a friendly bobby asking if you’d mind leaving, to three months inside (for a guilty plea!) – many squatters are looking towards the thousands of vacant commercial and industrial properties. Unsurprisingly the lobbyists behind criminalisation are already pushing for the law to be extended and backbench Tories are lining up to lend the latest bandwagon their support. Chatham MP Tracey Crouch snarled “it’s important that we look into [non-residential squatting] and try and outlaw it as soon as possible” – no doubt before retreating to one of her taxpayer funded homes.

October 13 Demo…

 

WHATEVER THEY SAY, SQUATTING WILL STAY!

We will resist the squatting ban by any means necessary.

The Squatter’s Network of Brighton is calling for a Mass Squatting Action
on October 13th to resist the new anti-squatting laws. This act is
draconian, unworkable, an attack on our way of living and some of
the most vulnerable in our society. We will not take it lying down.

Around the UK, while increasing numbers are forced to sleep on the
streets, hundreds of thousands of properties are lying empty, decaying and
derelict. We watch property tycoons, speculators and corrupt landlords get
richer, whilst housing benefit is cut and rent goes up.

The UK is facing a massive housing crisis only made worse by the Tory
government, and we – the homeless and insecurely housed – will not stand
for it any more.

As both the birthplace of the bill, and as one of the places where
affordable houses are most difficult to come by, Brighton and Hove has a
special significance in the national and international struggles for the
right to home.

They take our houses, so we’ll take their city!

Everyone to the streets!

Oct 13th, 2pm

Victoria Square Gardens, Brighton

SNOB: www.network23.org/snob
Twitter: www.twitter.com/snobaha

The Opposite of Pride…

SNOB members took part in the Brighton Pride march on Saturday the first, marching as the Queer and Homeless wing of Brighton’s Queer Against the Cuts.

But, unsurprisingly, it didn’t end well.

Police harassment, political censorship and interference from the monopolistic business cabal who run the event. That’s what they got.

Check out the story here, and listen to an interview with two of the group on Saturday, 8.30pm, Radio Free Brighton.

Pix from today’s festivities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That raid in full at the local shitrag.

Best quote so far – “The two peple on top of the roof are wearing facemasks – one is wearing a hood, the other a cowboy hat”

All hands on deck

The first known arrests over new squatting law happened about an hour ago by squatters occupying a comercial property, who were using the upstairs residential area as an un-lived in social centre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The police turned up this morning at around 11am to raid the property on London Road in Brighton, despite no crime being committed – as the new law restricts people living in unoccupied buildings, but not visiting them. Regardless, Sussex police have now arrested three people who attached themselves with glue (see picture), spending three hours to enter through barricades to remove them.

One of the visitors now on the roof of the squat said “On the roof init! Clowns got in but its gonna take them ages!” at 2pm, hours before three people were arrested inside the residential part of the building, despite not squatting the residential property.

The two roof top occupiers say they are up there to stay, as cops miserably fail to negotiate a deal with them. Support is currently gathering, but if you are free to pop down and say hello it’d be appreciated!

UPDATE – It’s all over and the rooftop peeps got away! The three arrestees have not yet been released and total solidarity to them.

 

Updated advice from the Advisory Service for Squatters

Received via SQUASH:

If you are currently squatting, or believe you may otherwise be affected by the new laws, we recommend that you read the following advice and resources from the Advisory Service for Squatters.

Tidy Mishapps

September 1st – what happens now?

On the 1st September S144 of LASPO 2012 comes into force. We’ll leave it to others to explain how this is crap law, in response to myths from sections of the media, brought in by a government of the rich.

The intention is to criminalise squatting in residential property.

We do not think that it will fully achieve this, and non-residential property remains as safe to squat as before.

We expect that the next few months will see a spate of challenges and test cases, which will draw lines between what can and what can’t be done.

We at ASS, along with others, have been going through what’s actually in writing, to work out how we can help people to be as safe as possible. Unfortunately we can’t be as reassuring as we would wish.

What is clear is that we should take down our old much-loved Legal Warnings, as these will be read as an admission of committing a criminal offence.

We have posted:

Squatting Made LESS Simple has been updated slightly

We will be monitoring the situation, writing to police stations to explain where they might be going wrong, working out how to go to court to get injunctions against illegal evictions, helping arrange legal challenges, and helping those who want to stand up to this stupid attack on our rights to a home, and to social space.

For more frontline support there are a number of local support networks as well as the Eviction Resistance Network, and others. Get involved, organise and support each other.

Let the real games commence!

It looks like from this that the residential squatting ban will come into force on September 1st. Here’s an important update from ASS:

“The new law on squatting (s144 LASPO 2012) will be coming into force on the 1st September 2012.

Not everyone who is squatting, or considered by others to be squatting, will be affected by the new law, but people will need to be prepared to explain, quite forcefully at times, why they are not affected.

The wording of S144 starts:

(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).

So Squatting is still legal in non-residential properties. A building is defined as ‘residential’ if it is “designed or adapted, before the time of entry, for use as a place to live”.

You are also not committing an offence if you have, or have had a tenancy or licence to live in the property, if you are not living or intending to live in the property, or if you don’t have any way to know you are a trespasser (in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading this).

Tenancies and licences do not have to be in writing, but if people have reason to think they may be accused of breaking the law it would be best to collect as much paperwork as possible. Tenancies and licences can also have been granted by a tenant of the owner, or by an agent, possibly without the owner’s knowledge (but they can check and return).

Any police officer would need to have reasonable suspicion that you (or anyone) have committed a crime, to force entry and to carry out an arrest, so it can be in your interests to explain otherwise. Explaining through a closed door or upstairs window is always preferable to letting them in.

Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 still applies against those trying to force entry without lawful authority. The problem is that the new law gives further lawful authority to the police to enter if they suspect the offence is being committed.”

MASS SQUATTING ACTION – BRIGHTON – OCT 13th

WHATEVER THEY SAY, SQUATTING WILL STAY!

We will resist the squatting ban by any means necessary.

The Squatter’s Network of Brighton is calling for a Mass Squatting Action
on October 13th to resist the new anti-squatting laws. This act is
draconian, unworkable, an attack on our way of living and some of
the most vulnerable in our society. We will not take it lying down.

Around the UK, while increasing numbers are forced to sleep on the
streets, hundreds of thousands of properties are lying empty, decaying and
derelict. We watch property tycoons, speculators and corrupt landlords get
richer, whilst housing benefit is cut and rent goes up.

The UK is facing a massive housing crisis only made worse by the Tory
government, and we – the homeless and insecurely housed – will not stand
for it any more.

As both the birthplace of the bill, and as one of the places where
affordable houses are most difficult to come by, Brighton and Hove has a
special significance in the national and international struggles for the
right to home.

They take our houses, so we’ll take their city!

Everyone to the streets!

Oct 13th, 2pm

Victoria Square Gardens, Brighton

SNOB: www.network23.org/snob
Twitter: www.twitter.com/snobaha

Brighton Squatter Tales

All from SchMovies:

Brighton Squatter Tales # 1 – Until Further Notice

Brighton Squatter Tales # 2 – International Squatter Convergence

Brighton Squatter Tales #3 – The Autonomous Homeless Shelter

And here’s to many more tales that could be told but probably never will….