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Hove MP's campaign sees squatting criminalised
Plans to make squatting illegal are to become law after a campaign by a Sussex MP.
The proposals from Justice Secretary Ken Clarke are due to be debated in the House of Commons next week.
If they are passed after a vote, the measure will be added to a bill currently making its way through Parliament.
It should become law by early next year.
Yesterday (October 26) the Government published details of its proposals which had been put out to consultation.
Despite responses from homeless charities and organisations including the Squatters Network of Brighton, the Government said it was concerned about the impact squatting has on property owners.
In his conclusions Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said: “Law-abiding property owners and occupiers should be able to enjoy their entitlements to their property without undue interference from those who have absolutely no right to be there.”
There have been a number of high-profile squatting battles in the Brighton area in recent years and Hove MP Mike Weatherley has long campaigned for it to be made a criminal, rather than a civil matter.
Last night he said: “I have said right from the beginning that squatting in people’s homes is wrong and should be criminalised.”
But Caroline Lucas, Brighton Pavilion’s Green MP, said laws already existed to protect homeowners from squatters.
She said: “We must not allow those who publicly misrepresent the law on this issue to cause the unnecessary criminalisation and prosecution of homeless and vulnerable people.”
Disused factories, warehouses and pubs will not be included.
Exemptions have been created for people who enter a building “in good faith” for example by being duped by a bogus letting agent.