MPs briefing on Legal Aid Bill amendments
Offenders Bill: the Criminalisation of SquattingBackground
As you will be aware the Ministry of Justice published a consultation titled “Options for dealing with squatters” on the 13th of July 2011. This consultation closed on the 5th of October. The MOJ’s response to this consultation was published on the 26th October.
The Justice Secretary has now tabled an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (‘the Legal Aid Bill’) (clause 26) which effectively criminalises the act of trespass in residential property (see appendix A). This is in spite of the fact that over 90% of the responses to the consultation were opposed to such a move.
The purpose of this briefing is to ask you to oppose the amendment on Tuesday 1st November when it is debated in the House of Commons, or to support the amendments that have been tabled (and detailed below).
Many young people were engaged with this campaign, and we find it hugely disappointing that a message is being sent back to them that consultation with the Government is an ineffective and impotent exercise.
In addition we would suggest that the introduction of such a significant offence to this late stage of a parliamentary bill is entirely inappropriate. Such a criminalisation required proper consideration of its impacts, and we are seriously concerned that there has not been adequate time for this to take place, particularly considering the overwhelming opposition to such a move within the consultation responses.