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Volume 558: debated on Tuesday 5 February 2013

11. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the legislation on squatting in residential premises introduced in 2012. (141250)

The offence came into force only on 1 September 2012, but early indications are that it is being enforced, and reports suggest that it is deterring would-be squatters from occupying other people’s homes.

There are indications that as a result of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 squatters are increasingly targeting commercial properties. What plans does my right hon. Friend have to evaluate the size of the problem of squatting in commercial premises nationally and to take action to amend the law if necessary?

I can assure my hon. Friend that we are monitoring this closely, because it is possible that displacement squatting, as it were, is happening. We are in the early stages of collecting evidence. If he has specific examples from his own constituency of squatters occupying non-residential buildings, we will look at it very carefully, because squatting is a damaging offence.