Emergency action request from John Mc Donnell MP & LRC re: Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Bill

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Government is trying to rush through a New Clause to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Bill next week to criminalise squatting. We need your help in urging Labour MPs and Labour’s Front Bench to oppose this appalling attack on the homeless.

 

Under the Government’s proposal anyone squatting in a residential property could be jailed for a criminal offence for up to a year or fined up to £5000.

 

The housing charities, Crisis, Thames Reach, Shelter, Homelessness Link, Housing Justice , St Mungo’s and the Squatters Advisory Service have expressed serious concerns about this proposal to criminalise squatting, arguing that squatting is a symptom of the worsening housing crisis and that for many homeless and vulnerable people squatting is the only way of avoiding rough sleeping.

 

There are already laws in place to deal with squatting. In its evidence to the Government the Metropolitan Police said that “despite some of the claims in sections of the press, the reality is that there are already more than adequate means for removing squatters.”

 

The Government’s consultation on its proposals only ended three weeks ago and over 90% of the organisations responding were against the proposals. Even the Magistrates Association expressed its “reluctance to see new laws created without proper analysis of why existing powers may not be working satisfactorily”

 

Please help us persuade Labour’s Front Bench and Labour MPs to vote against this New Clause 26.

 

The Bill starts in the Commons on Monday and so there is no time to lose.

 

Please contact urgently your local Labour MP and any Labour MPs in your area or union to urge them to vote against New Clause 26.

 

It would be helpful if you could also contact Labour’s Shadow Housing Minister, Jack Dromey MP (jack.dromey.mp@parliament.uk) and Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP (ed.miliband.mp@parliament.uk), urging Labour’s front bench to vote against New Clause 26. 

Thank you,

John McDonnell MP

LRC Chair

http://www.l-r-c.org.uk

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