Hove MP Mike Weatherley said that he was thrilled that squatting in someone else’s home would become a criminal offence from tomorrow (Saturday 1 September).
Mr Weatherley said that the change in the law had come about “after a long campaign to thwart the anti-social practice”.
The Ministry of Justice believes that there are about 50,000 squatters in Britain and indicated that between 350 and 2,000 a year could be prosecuted under the new law. They will face a maximum penalty of a £5,000 fine, six months in prison or both.
Mr Weatherley has been campaigning for squatting to be criminalised since his election to Parliament in 2010.
He has won the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke and Justice Minister Crispin Blunt.
Mr Weatherley said: “Squatting is a huge problem in Brighton and Hove, with numerous instances of this organised and frequently menacing behaviour blighting the lives of ordinary people.
“It has been a lengthy and complicated process but I am thrilled to finally see the bill that I worked so hard on to finally come into force as a new piece of legislation.
“Residents across the country will no longer have to worry that their homes will be unprotected by the law.
“The police will now have the power to arrest squatters right away for being in someone else’s property.”
The legal change does not cover former tenants or squatting in commercial premises such as shops and offices.
It has been brought about by section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
The Ministry of Justice has issued a circular to judges, magistrates and police forces setting out how the law should be applied.
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