Meet Alice. In 2021 Alice occupied a disused pizza restaurant in Soho as a squat and began making free pizzas for all in the kitchen using donated ingredients to raise awareness for a political cause.

This went great for a few days and then finally the police came and claimed that there was a reported potential gas leak on the grounds of which they were ordering all of the occupants to leave so that it could be inspected for safety (without an interim possession order requiring them to).

The occupiers were forced to leave.

Can the police legally ford then to leave, and if they do, after the inspection was completed, must they be allowed to reoccupy the premises?

  • 2
    Would anyone care to explain the downvotes? It seems like a clear legal question with all the information needed to provide a useful answer.
    – bdb484
    Oct 17, 2022 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


While squatting in non-residential properties is not in of itself a crime - and assuming Alice is able to re-enter the premises either without committing a crime (or providing the police with reasonable cause to believe that they intend to commit a crime) then the police are unlikely to do anything to stop them re-occupying the premises.

The thing is though - the Police don't show up for a gas leak. They aren't the gas police. What's happening here is that the Police are using the gas leak (which may not even exist) as a pretext to remove the squatters. Presumably because they have reasonable cause to believe that the squatter's occupancy is resulting in crimes.

At the very least it sounds as though Alice has been committing a crime by using the erstwhile pizza restaurant's utilities - particularly theft of gas which could see her face up to five years in prison.

Now, assuming Alice is held in custody for a period of time sufficient for the premises' owners to secure it from re-entry then if Alice were to break-in to re-occupy she would be opening herself up to being arrested for criminal damage etc.


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