Being Homeless: Walking the line between the cells and the cold

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Homelessness is an enduring and chronic disease.

Squatting could now become a criminal offence, giving those who impugn the law a criminal record, up to 6 months in prison, a £5000 fine, or all of the above. It would appear that this law too has been a swift decision, and as it germinates the consequences will be horrific to many homeless people in the UK who have little other option but to break it. These sick bastards are doing all they can to drive these people over the edge. Anyone who’s walked home through Leeds at half 4 knows that hell hath no fury like a tramp who’s bored and full of White Lightning.

It is difficult to see how the option of a £5000 fine has any application to squatters; if I had a spare 5 grand I’d probably rent a flat, or at least switch from Sainsbury’s own Cider to 5 Hammers or Woodpecker. Essentially then the law demands an immediate prison sentence. The law should stay away from blanket decisions of this kind. Breaking into a home and squatting there while a family are away on holiday should count as burglary, and severely punished, yet the law proposed counts in regards to empty houses too, of which there are some 720,000 in the UK. Thus, both the dilapidated, abandoned buildings will be unavailable to the freezing cold and frightened, as will be the properties of the incredibly wealthy, who barely remember what these homes look like. I don’t know what it’s like to take a s*** in front of 2 families and a flock of pigeons, but I imagine it’s grim. Neither situation is fair, especially as many super-rich would have them evicted before they return to the South of France to have Champagne breakfasts with expat paedophiles and affairs with bamboozled chalet girls.

Then there are the practical implications. A recent report on the problem of overcrowding prisons in the UK suggested we will see two phenomena emerge; a large proportion of Britain’s sizable squatting community will be unable to pay the fine, and so all offenders will go to prison, while many will purposefully begin to squat, in anger at the law and as prison is often a better alternative than dying of cold and hunger.

Now while it is all well and good to champion the protection of private property, it is perhaps wise to give a little more importance to the possession of life, which this law may well remove. The law should not be aimed at sending vulnerable people to jail; it should be aimed at making the streets safer for them and in providing minimal places for them to survive the winter.

Once again, we close the door on the poor and hungry. Once again we turn our back on a crippled underclass we have created, and over which we hold all the cards. We can only hope that one day the drafters of this legislation also feel the coldness of the floor beneath them, the stench of squalor, the steady fear of dying on the street. I only hope that after the homeless rise up and take the Country, I’m one of the last put up against the wall. 

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