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Criminalising ‘Intentional Trespass’

A brief update on the development of measures to criminalise trespass.

The Parliament debate on the petition against the bill that was scheduled on the 25th January has been delayed without a further date set. More proof, if any was needed, that such petitions are futile. Since, the Telegraph has released an article saying the legislation concerning tackling of ‘unauthorised encampments’ would be announced in the coming weeks.

The Home Office’s recent update released in December 2020 outlined more specifically that the legislation will be targeting trespass with intent to reside on land, when establishing an ‘unauthorised encampment’. The file emphasises that the government is intending to go about this in one of two ways; either legislating for a new criminal offence (intentional trespass) or to strengthen the police powers in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

The Home Office research briefing assures the public that this IS in fact discriminatory legislation by emphasising this bill is intending to target travellers and NOT intended to impinge on the middle classes, by iterating that this law specifically will not criminalise ramblers

In a recent statement; Friends, Families and Travellers responded to the developments; “It is deeply unfair that while the Government is dramatically failing to identify enough land for Gypsy and Traveller families to live on, the Home Secretary is working to create laws to imprison and fine families living on roadside camps for the “crime” of having nowhere else to go. The Government must do more to identify land for Gypsy and Traveller people to live and stop placing blame on the very families they have failed. Everybody needs a place to live.”

This bill will also be encroaching on the right to protest, making any kind of resistive land occupation illegal and so quicker and easier to evict. A prospect even more pressing as the many sites along the HS2 route are facing increased oppression from the authorities. Further, it looks like this legislation will coincide with the Protection of the Police and Public Bill, the report of which is due this February. This bill is set to massively increase the police’s power of crowd control and dispersal at demonstrations. Combined, these new laws will make any kind of insurgent actions even further restricted.

In the face of these oppressive new laws, we must continue to organise and resist. Join with your networks to take action big or small and raise awareness of these impending authoritarian laws.

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