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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Squatter jailed

March 20 2013
A homeless man has been jailed for 15 weeks for taking shelter in a derelict building

 

A homeless man has been jailed for 15 weeks for taking shelter in a derelict building after being convicted of squatting under new legislation.

Michael Minorczyk was sleeping on a makeshift bed in a boarded-up house in Blackburn on 31 January when police entered the building through a broken door, woke him up and told him he had to leave.

When police returned to check on the house 20 minutes later, the 27-year-old, who has serious alcohol problems, was asleep. He was then arrested for refusing to leave. The Polish man pleaded guilty to squatting at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court, and was given a 15 week jail sentence under anti-squatting legislation introduced in September.

The new legislation makes squatting in residential buildings a crime punishable by a £5,000 fine or a six-month prison sentence or both. It has received widespread criticism from charities such as Crisis, which claimed the new law would criminalise vulnerable people, leaving them in prison or facing a fine they cannot pay.

Last September Alex Haigh, a 21-year-old from Plymouth, became the first person to be jailed under the new law when he was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison.

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