A judge has ordered Camden Council to reveal its list of empty properties to a squatter under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). Under the terms of the ruling, Camden must publish details on all unoccupied council-owned properties and also information regarding private properties belonging to non-individuals that it knows to be unoccupied. Camden Council have 28 days to comply with the ruling.
The action was taken by Yiannis Voyias of the Advisory Service for Squatters. He argued that publishing the list would "rejuvenate the empty homes debate" and encourage action be taken on empty properties. He also said that academic researchers, homelessness charities and even English Heritage would benefit from disclosure.
Camden Council argues that releasing the list would hamper “the prevention or detection of crime”. The police supported the council and said squatting was related to increased cime including vandalism, drug use and other anti-social behaviour. Camden Council said that when a similar list had been released in Lambeth, the number of squatted properties in the area had almost doubled.
The judge disagreed. As part of her ruling, Judge Fiona Henderson said that releasing the information was likely to have "a negative impact on the prevention of crime" but added that there was a lack of evidence that squatters caused more anti-social behaviour than paying tenants. She also noted in her judgement that squatting “is not illegal”.