Protestors climbed onto the roof of justice secretary Ken Clarke's Oval home yesterday, in the wake of plans to criminalise squatting.
Unfurling a banner that said "housing is a human right", they wanted to highlight their opposition to a consultation on changing squatting from a civil to a criminal offence in England and Wales, bringing us in line with Scotland. Last week a judge seemed to agree with the protesters' reasoning, requiring Camden Council to release a list of empty homes across the borough. Judge Henderson said
"The tribunal accepts that bringing empty properties back into reuse is a priority for the Government and the council... [publication would] bring buildings back into use sooner and the housing needs of additional people would be met."
The government also accepts that criminalising squatting could lead to a rise in homelessness - in addition to Eric Pickles's department's estimate that 40,000 households could lose their homes in the wake of welfare caps.
Some squats turn into community centres and provide a local service, but the Evening Standard's on a bit of a drive to point out the other side, recently highlighting the case of a doctor and his pregnant wife, whose new home was squatted two days after they bought it. What do you think - reasonable answer to the capital's housing crisis, or nothing but an excuse for criminal damage?
Photo of the Social Centre Plus squat in Deptford by Doilum from the Londonist Flickr pool