CLA welcomes proposals to increase police powers to deal with illegal traveller camps

07 February 2019

Impromptu gypsy camp near Junction 12 M5 motorway, Hardwicke

The CLA has welcomed proposals announced by the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid on illegal encampments on private land, which would make it easier for police officers to intervene and remove travellers.

The measures include reducing the number of vehicles needing to be involved in an unauthorised encampment before police powers can be exercised and extending the period during which travellers would be unable to return to land from three to 12 months. The Home Office will also consult further on making it a criminal offence to set up an unauthorised encampment.

CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Illegal encampments in rural areas can have a detrimental economic, environmental and social impact on local businesses and communities as well as to the private landowner, and we welcome this announcement from the Home Secretary.

“The time it takes to seek the successful removal of an encampment varies widely. Existing police powers for removal have proved ineffective on private land, resulting in frustration to the landowner who has to use alternative legal mechanisms, which are often time consuming and expensive.

“Making it a criminal offence to set up an unauthorised residential camp would act as a deterrent to those who might consider occupying land without consent and provide greater certainty for the police to act if they understand that an offence has been committed.

“However, this will mean the Government will need to ensure there is suitable provision of lawful traveller sites through up-to-date local plan policies to avoid the issues that arise from unauthorised encampments.

“We look forward to engaging with the forthcoming consultation to bring about this change in the law.”