Lifestyle Squatters; House Invaders 'Often Driven by Politics' ... and Only One in 200 Is Really Homeless

Daily Mail (London), October 4, 2011 | Go to article overview

Lifestyle Squatters; House Invaders 'Often Driven by Politics' ... and Only One in 200 Is Really Homeless


Byline: Steve Doughty Social Affairs Correspondent

ONLY a tiny minority of squatters are genuinely homeless, academics said yesterday.

Their report found that 6 per cent of people without a roof over their heads turn to squatting on any given night.

That would equate to 106 of the average 1,768 who sleep rough.

Given an estimated squatter population of 20,000, that means only one in nearly 200 was homeless.

The report says the majority of those who force their way into unoccupied property are in fact 'lifestyle squatters' - only a very few of them act because they are homeless. Instead they can be motivated either by politics, by wanting to be part of a gang or simply through wanting to avoid paying rent.

The figures, produced by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University and published by the charity Crisis, come at a time when the Government is considering criminalising squatting.

Tory MP Mike Weatherley describes squatters as 'an internet-savvy, well-organised, often menacing group, on the hunt for a cosy billet'.

The MP for Hove and Portslade said yesterday: 'The idea that squatters are homeless people is incorrect.

'We have to stop this perception that squatting is a desperate act by the homeless and vulnerable. It is not.

'We should do more for the vulnerable in society.

'But that does not give anybody the right to take over anyone else's property.' He pointed out that squatters had developed the tactic of putting notices on the front door of a home they have seized, saying they did no damage while moving in and claiming the right to live there.

'That is not typical behaviour of homeless people,' he said. 'Squatting is an anarchist choice and a choice against society.'

The report by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam said: 'Homeless people squat out of necessity, often as the only alternative to sleeping on the street.

'Squatting is often the last resort to avoid rough sleeping', adding that nine out of ten homeless squatters had slept rough. …

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