The petition “Don’t criminalise trespass” has gathered a total of 134 929 signatures. It will be debated on January 25th at 4:30PM (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300139). The debate will be accessible through the UK Parliament Youtube channel : https://www.youtube.com/UKParliament –> DEBATE POSTPONED
On the petition’s page, there is a survey that you can fill in to inform the debate. It is unlikely that this will have any effect on the outcome of the parliamentary discussion… At the end of it, you can give them a piece of your mind, provided it’s not more than 100 words long. Here is my response to the survey, in its extended version:
The survey is completely biased in favor of landlords, sedentary communities and ramblers. It completely overlooks the point of view of travellers and protesters, but also of migrants, homeless people, rough sleepers and squatters, who are not even mentioned.
1. Travellers should be supported in living their way of life. They (and everyone else who embraces a not-fixed-abode lifestyle, by choice or by necessity) should have access to sites, basic sanitary infrastructure, litter collection and facilitated access to public resources. The government is not there just to serve the wealthy and the sedentary, but everyone.
2. Police powers are already sufficient to tackle issues of unauthorised encampments. A survey shows that an overwhelming majority of the interrogated police force do not believe criminalising trespass will have a beneficial effect, and that they have sufficient power to deal with the issues. They say that providing more sites would be a better response. Even the pigs don’t want this law.
3. Laws against trespass have already been used as a repressive tool against protesters, for example at the HS2 site. There is no way the government will not use anti-trespass legislation to further repress essential protests against bullshit projects that will crush the environment.
4. As usual, homeless people, rough sleepers and squatters are considered a sub-category of citizenship. Yet squatting is an essential tool for survival. People who live in squats have nowhere else to go. This criminalisation of trespass is going to push thousands to the streets. Squatting is actually very convenient for public powers – if squatting is made illegal, the housing crisis will sharply worsen. What’s more, if all squatting is made indiscriminately illegal, squatters will have no reason not to turn to residential squatting. Squatting only occurs when landlords don’t make use of valuable space. For landlords, it is about money and property – for squatters, it is about shelter and community space, a much more essential need.
5. The same goes for rough sleeping and illegal migrants encampments. People cannot simply cease to exist. They need shelter, and they will try and find it. Further repression and criminalisation of rough sleepers and migrants is obscene, for it prioritizes the comfort of people who live very comfortable lives over the very basic survival needs of others.
In conclusion, it seems that the proposal to criminalise trespass is not only unnecessary, as police have far more than enough powers to deal with “problematic” situations ; it is also dangerous, for it appeals to the middle- and upper-class and agitates their so-called “sense of unease and intimidation” – another name for intolerance and racism – for electoral purposes. In doing so, this proposal will deeply affect vulnerable people. It will also sacrifice the rights of a minority that has too little public support, the GRT communities, as well as act as a trojan horse for more repressive actions against protesters. It is a pledge to smash and silence counter-cultural practices, such as squatting and free party movements, and even hiking and enjoying the countryside, all that to seem tough to Tory voters. This sacrifice of the rights of many for public opinion gain is unacceptable.