- Advisory Service for Squatters
The Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) is a
non-profitgroup based in London, UK, run by volunteerswhich aims to provide practical advice and legal support for squatters. It was founded in 1975, having grown out of the Family Squatters Advisory Service. After being based for many years at 2 St.Paul's Road in Islington, ASS moved its offices to Angel Alley (84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX), the same building as Freedom Press (U.K.).
A spokesperson for the group said in 2003 "Today's squatters are highly organised and efficient. Many have full-time work, and drug problems are rare." [Fallon A "Squatters are back, and upwardly mobile" in 'The Independent on Sunday' October 12, 2003]
ASS publishes the "Squatters' Handbook" which both serves as a guide for how and where to squat and explains the legal issues involved. 150,000 copies have been sold since 1976 and the twelfth edition was published in 2004. [Anonymous, (12th edition, 2004)"Squatter's Handbook", Advisory Service for Squatters ISBN 0950776955]
In June 2008 the ASS was subject to controversy when the
Daily Mailreported on The Squatters Handbook. Eric Pickles, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, criticised councils for publishing The Handbook and the AAS contact details on council websites. He said “Homeowners will be horrified that town halls are giving squatters the green light to break into law-abiding citizens’ homes … Promoting such lawlessness is breathtaking, but is sadly an indictment of social breakdown that has become rife under Labour and the prevalence of 'human rights' laws. This revelation coupled with fact violent crime is doubling blows apart Labour's claim to be the party of law and order.” [http://www.squatter.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=149&Itemid=2 Advisory Service for Squatters - SQUATTING IS STILL LEGAL ] ]
In response the ASS issued a press release explaining that "Councils sign post ASS on their websites because we offer free advice to homeless people and those with housing problems."
In the press release the ASS also stated that "Squatters only occupy empty properties. In those cases where a mistake is made and there is an occupier, the squatters can be quickly removed by legal mechanisms." and that "squatting mostly happens in housing that’s been left to rot, whether by councils or private owners." The ASS also stated that it "does not promote lawlessness, as squatting is still legal. We help disadvantaged people to find housing, to help themselves when no-one else will. We often recommend that people who are eligible for Priority Need Housing apply to their local Council."
The ASS further stated that "Human Rights laws are generally unavailable to squatters as a defence." And that "the real issue is the difficulty of getting housed, due to profiteering through privatisation and gentrification, which leads to unaffordable rents and the need to take personal action."
* [http://www.squatter.org.uk/ ASS website]
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