As of last week, it is a criminal offence to squat in any residential property, including those that are empty or abandoned. Many of the headlines were almost euphoric in tone, lauding the end of ‘squatters’ rights’ and praising a victory for common sense. And who could disagree? For too long lazy, hippie, dropout, scrounging anarchists have been causing ‘untold misery’ by forcing thousands of really nice law-abiding people out of their homes.
No-one could fail to be moved by the words of Tariq Jahan, the father of one of the three men mown down by a hit and run driver in Birmingham last week. His reaction to his son’s death, killed as he tried to protect his community from rioters, was both poignant and extraordinary. He said he believed people could stay calm and could live together. The police said his words had played a significant part in helping to quell further unrest.