Letter: Squatting law solves nothing

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The Independent Online
THE Government should feel embarrassed by Peter Popham's article on squatting ('Eviction by any means necessary', Review, 24 April). One of its historical strongholds of policy - law and order - is seen to be unconvincing and the Home Secretary is in a jam.

'Squatting can never be justified,' says Michael Howard. 'When people find squatters in their homes, they don't want lengthy court proceedings. They want something done about it.' The majority of squats are empty council properties which local authorities are unable to renovate due to inadequate central Government funding. Squatters may not mind that these properties do not have carpets or wallpaper. They are more concerned about being warm and dry. There are more than 800,000 empty properties in the UK and about 150,000 statutory homeless families.

Criminalising squatters, New Age travellers and the like is hardly a body-blow to the well-established underworld. No matter how many times Mr Howard says the word 'people' (count it, next time you hear him), he will not convince me that he is really going to deal with the real problems of crime in this country. Nor will he acknowledge 'people's' real housing problems.

Ben Schneider

London N16