Mike has welcomed the eviction of squatters in a property in Middle Street, Brighton, after two weeks of chaos.
Mike has been campaigning for squatting to be criminalised since his election to Parliament in 2010 and has been supported by his colleague the Rt Hon Kenneth Clarke QC MP, Secretary of State for Justice. Squatting is a huge problem in Brighton & Hove, with numerous instances of this organised and frequently menacing behaviour blighting the lives of ordinary people.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act criminalises squatting and comes into force on 1st September. However, the law only covers squatting in residential properties so would not have covered this building. Sussex Police has said that nearby residents and businesses were subjected to a tirade of anti-social behaviour. Photographic evidence from the police shows that the property was left in a total mess, with rubbish strewn all over the place.
Commenting, Mike said: “This is a prime example of why the new law needs to be extended to cover commercial premises as well. While it is not good for communities for buildings to be left empty for years, squatting in them will not help the situation. I know of a number of people that have suffered enormously as squatters ruined their businesses. The law needs to be tougher, but at least come 1st September we will no longer have to worry about our homes being targeted by these layabouts.”