Squatting Statistics 2015
The link between rising homelessness and the criminalisation of squatting – May 2016
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Arrests & Disposals
- Arrests: There were at least 148 arrests under s144 LASPOA in 2015. This brings the total confirmed arrests to date to 736 people since 2012;
- Charged: The percentage of those charged with the offence was 64% of arrested in 2015 (94), and half of those charged were remanded in custody before their court hearing;
- Arrest Targets: Arrests for section 144 have been averaging around 160 arrests per year. This suggests an annual arrest target for this offence.
- Displaced Residents: When asked, no police force was able to cite a single case of a displaced residential occupier for a squatting arrest, a principle reason for introducing the offence in 2011;
- Backup Offence: Squatters are arrested for a number of alternative offences (eg Criminal Damage, Burglary), and section 144 is often used as a secondary offence when the more serious offences can’t be successfully prosecuted;
- Prosecutions: Prosecutions of section 144 offences has been rising year on year since 2012, and is currently averaging around 13 prosecutions a month, up from 10 in 2014-15. This brings the total number of section 144 prosecutions brought for a first hearing at a Magistrates court since 2012 to 326;
- Convictions: There is too little information to gauge the true number of those convicted for section 144 and their sentences. The number of known convictions stands at around 60 since 2012.
- Fast-track evictions, using Interim Possession Orders and High Court Bailiffs, are increasing and becoming more common;
- Illegal evictions by landlords, the police and security firms continue, as it is widely believed that section 144 criminalises all squatting, and that squatters are de facto “criminals”;
- Length of Occupation: Squats now last little more than 3 weeks in general, three months at most. This is in sharp contrast to pre-2012 lengths of occupation, of between 6 months to a year.
Criminalising the Homeless & Market Effects
- Rising Homelessness: more 18-34 year olds are being made homeless through private and social housing evictions, and it is estimated there were 83,000 young homeless in 2015;
- Rising Rough Sleeping: rough sleeping number have risen dramatically since 2010/11, due in part to the implementation of section 144, and at least 194 rough sleepers died in London in 2015;
- Underreporting and Criminalisation: the government’s response to rising homelessness has been to underreport and criminalise those sleeping rough, eg Operation Encompass;
- Rising House Prices: links between aggressive enforcement of homeless criminalisation and rising house prices can be seen in London and other parts of England;
- Legislative Subsidy: section 144, among others, acts as a public subsidy for private landlords and speculators, enabling them are to leave homes empty and fast-track evictions.