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Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Tuesday, 30 March 2010 11:20 UK
Immigrants are living in my shed

Homeless immigrants are taking refuge in garden sheds and coal bunkers in a Peterborough street.

Residents of Lincoln Road are unable to remove the squatters as trespass is not, in itself, a criminal offence.

You've been telling BBC Cambridgeshire that it's a problem all around the city and it's getting worse.

It's a debate that could rumble on for years to come, but what do you think? Use the form below to have your say and read other people's comments.

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• Polly, Lewisham: Good grief some people are being far too negative. We should welcome the much needed addition of diversity and cultural enrichment to British towns and sheds. Why are these selfish householders letting foreign guests suffer in cold damp sheds? They should be invited inside to a spare bed if one is available or perhaps the householders can provide a camping bed.

• Marian, London: This story is unbelievable in that there is no legal support to remove these unwanted tenants from the property!! However, there is a remedy which is instant - KNOCK DOWN THE SHED!!!! Sorted...

• Anon: I thnk it is a shame that our government made life so easy for immigrants, we fed them, give them clothes, money and do not deport them as we should. Any other country would not allow such practice, especially the countries they hve come from. I feel sorry for the people who have to put up wih squatters in their sheds and outhouses they should have some rights in getting rid of them. England is a freestate except for the English.

• Liam, Istanbul, Turkey (formerly of Cambridgeshire): If the owner of one these houses on Lincoln Road was to actually chose to rent their shed to someone, how long would it take the police/council/courts to prosecute them for breaking whichever laws that would break? Not very long I bet... Yet another reason I'm so glad I emigrated from the UK.

• Mags, Sydney, Australia: Don't worry guys, we're fast heading your way what with the Rudd government's 'green light' re welcoming every 'asylum seeker' this side of East Anglia. BTW Australia already has squatters camped outside Parliament House for the past 20 years - the aboriginal "Tent City" shows no hint of moving on. How about that for the loony 'PC' correct mob!

• Liz, Peterborough: There are so many people living on the streets in Peterborough who have somehow managed to survive this winter - real people in this city were living in tents and wrapped in duvets when the weather hit -4! It is appalling that in 21st century Britain there is little or no help for people who end up in this situation. They have nowhere else to go. Other cities have really excellent facilities and projects to help people who are homeless.... We can't blame these individuals for trying to find shelter for the night... but it obviously doesn't resolve the bigger issues we have. Yes if people would rather live here in a tent, or in someone's shed then they are mostly still better off than they would be in Eastern Europe and they want a better life, which they don't end up getting. Coming here doesn't solve their problems, but surely they deserve some compassion?

• Chris, Bagshot, Surrey: An article in The daily mail last week was showing immigrants camping by the river, netting fish and killing swans for food,at one time killing a swan was treason! Why do they get away with it?

• Thomas, Cambs: All these comments take no heed of the fact that the Police have to work within the law. When will ill-educated people realise that if you want the Police to be able to remove people from sheds, deport them from the country, even hang them for being foreign (as some extremists might have us do) you need to change the law. Do not blame the Police for the law - blame yourselves for voting in the Government you deserve. The Police have a hard enough time as it is working with the law - ass as it most certainly is, at times - and they should have our support. Remember that the people you should be having a go at are the politicians who do little and feed at the Westminster trough - not the fine men and women who keep us safe as best they can despite increasing danger and decreasing finances. Never forget - every time a mad axe-wielding or gun-toting lunatic causes the public to run away, brave men and women in high-visibility clothing are running towards them. Respect. [Edited comment]

• Andy, London: Facts not assumptions: s.72 Violent entry to premises: special position of displaced residential occupiers and intending occupiers; (1) Section 6 of the [1977 c. 45.] Criminal Law Act 1977 (which penalises violence by a person for securing entry into premises where a person on the premises is opposed and is known to be opposed to entry) shall be amended as follows. (2) After subsection (1), there shall be inserted the following subsection—"(1A) Subsection (1) above does not apply to a person who is a displaced residential occupier or a protected intending occupier of the premises in question or who is acting on behalf of such an occupier; and if the accused adduces sufficient evidence that he was, or was acting on behalf of, such an occupier he shall be presumed to be, or to be acting on behalf of, such an occupier unless the contrary is proved by the prosecution.".

• Gary, Sawtry: It is to the eternal shame of this country that people are forced to live on the streets, in sheds and worse while there are numerous empty properties that have been empty for years. How can it be right that in our 'civilised' society anyone is forced to live like this. British or not, if you are in a position to help by feeding, clothing or generally helping please do.

• GG, Cambs: This is just one more example where the offender's rights supersede the victim's. This frightening trend that seems to occur with great regularity in the UK . I love living here in the UK, and have great respect for the English. But, I have to say I am truly glad I that back home I have the right to defend myself and my family from criminals without fear of prosecution. This includes trespassers as that is a criminal offence.

• Anon, Cambs: no one asked them to come what makes them think they can come here and help themselves to other peoples property send them back to where they came from, just because its rubbish in their country doesnt give them the right to come here and free load.

• Ryan, Peterborough: having had a look through all of these comments its clear that there is a lot of opinions in this country but no action, are we to be a nation run by a goverment or are people actually going to fight and make this a country where the goverment fear the very backlash of there people. all you have to do is look across the pond in france if they dont like something then they make it known and its changed we need to do the same.

• Laurie, Bristol: What, in the eyes of the law, if you fancied spending a night in your own shed? Surely then you'd be well within your rights to throw him out!

• Wendy, St Neots: Trespass is a civil offence, not a criminal one. (Trespassers cannot be 'prosecuted', as many signs on property claim) The police can 'direct' trespassers to leave under the circumstances outlined in the article. Yes Rich, your home could be your castle - prevention is better than cure. Secure gates, fences and walls and make it as difficult as possible for people to gain access. If somebody breaks something to access your property then it is a crime and the police could do something.

• Anon: I once lived in a house with a shed at the end of a very long garden. A 'tramp' lived there for some time before I even realised it was happening. He was something of a local character and he didn't bother me, so I didn't bother him. He always left in the summer time and came back in the winter. Just ask yourself - how desperate does somebody have to be to decide that living in a shed is better than the alternative?

• Dick, Peterborough: So the house dwellers have no rights when it comes to others trespassing in or on the house dwellers property. Why are we paying so much of our income in taxes for a very poor service from government both local and national as well as the County Constabulary. It's an absolute disgrace! We're overrun with rough sleepers in their encampments across the city. The law is an ass and needs modifying quickly to enable decent law abiding people to have their rights to evict squatters etc from their property. This is 2010 not 1910.

• Paul, Peterborough: There is nothing the police can do 'unless damage is caused'? What do you call ripping down boards, breaking in, breaking windows, leaving USED HEROIN NEEDLES (proof available) all over the floor... I thought taking drugs like that was ILLEGAL. Perhaps I should start taking drugs and not paying my rent... then say its fine, because I am not causing any damage... Somehow I do not think that would apply to me... It is a disgrace, as I said on BBC Radio Cambs, if this 'civil' matter was taken up by civilians and sorted out, we would all be arrested.

• Simon, Wisbech: why cant we change the law, if somebody is trespassing and they keep coming back its obvious the police arent going to do anything about it. if they dont move out, then we should be able to threaten them without being prosecuted instead of having to let them walk all over us!!

• Connor, Sawston: I think that this is really quite unfair on the people who's sheds and garages these are because why should immigrants be allowed to set up their home on someone elses property. I think that the immigrants should be removed immediately and deported back to the country they came from. I think it is very unfair on the home owner.

• Mary, Boston, USA: "An English man's home was ONCE his castle..." Does he not have that right any longer? So, any foreigner can walk into your home and take over? Am I to understand this is allowed? Under what law is this permitted?

• John, Newport, Wales: The law in this country is an ***, and has been for years. Too many do-gooders, and bent barristers who fight for the illegal immigrants etc. I would, as it is my shed, to do with it what I want, take a sledge hammer to it, or even burn it down. They will soon move. Its the same with the lazy people scrounging off the rest of us who go out to work. This country needs a good government in charge who look after the white indiginous British person.

• Anon: why cant we threaten them to show we are serious rather than being walked all over, its obvious that the police wont do anything. its fine for an immigrant to trespass, yet if we did it in their country we would be behind bars!!

• Its not just garden sheds these migrants are living in. There is a large tented shanty town by the river (thorpe meadows nature reserve) where they catch fish and swans to eat. they have also taken chairs from the local pub (The Boathouse) A smaller tented "town" is by the railway near Toys r us. They only stay near Lincoln rd because the Sally army and others give them FREE Food. Sometimes I think I mush be living in Calais.

• John, Gamlingay: Surely if somebody is in your shed , garden or house its called Trespassing it just shows you how inept and useless the Police are.

• Anon: If someone tried to invade my shed i would make conditions very unpleasent, sparking up angle grinder and welder and when i leave disconecting sky feed, turning of electric, and a question - if they eat my chocolate and drink my coke is that theft?

• Rich: Listen, lets stop this messing about, if somebody is in your garden or shed, you treat them as a thief or burglar. Thats your kingdom and castle.

• Mark, Peterborough: It seems one Czech immigrant prefers to stay here in someone's shed rather than go home, and what's more as long as he gets his regular dose of cider he is happy, he does not want to go back home on a paid for flight... and the guy whose property he is on cannot get rid of him. WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY? I dont understand why we have no way of dealing with this except to possibly break the law ourselves by chucking them off our property or incur solicitors bills for the pleasure of removing them legally. [Edited comment]

• The real question we all want answering is how we can prevent someone squatting our house? This is not the first time this has come to the news. Usually it is when someone goes on holiday, they return to find the house squatted and it takes months to remove the squatters. Since the police will normally take the side of the squatter and the owner is left to go through the civil courts to regain their property, what do we do to protect ourselves?

• Good locks are not an answer. The squatters always claim they never broke in the premises were open. Presumably they get someone else to do the breaking in. So what protection can we instigate so that IF this happens to us when we return the squatters are instantly kicked out by the police?

• Delboy: If anyone broke into my garden, they wud make my dogs happy as they would like to have a burglar for lunch i wud think there bark wud scare them off.

• Nick, Cambridge: Three van loads of police swooped on the gala bingo hall in Cambridge very quickly and ejected squatters and the building is now secure. Who pulled strings? It can be done!


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