Under a law in place since the beginning of September, squatting in empty residential properties in England and Wales is already a criminal offence, with those convicted facing months in prison and steep fines. The ministry of justice estimates that up to 2,000 people could be prosecuted each year.
Supporters of the law, including David Cameron, the British prime minister, argue that banning squatting is necessary to protect homeowners and landlords, to prevent associated anti-social and criminal behaviour, and to give the police and courts greater powers to evict, arrest and prosecute those engaged in it.
This is fucking huge. It's hard for my mind to imagine how this law can be enforced. Indeed, in the late 80s, I stayed in an apartment building in the Docklands that was occupied almost entirely by squatters. Only three souls, myself included, were paying rent, and we looked like fools. Has all of that changed? Is squatting a thing of the past? If so, London is a very different city now.