Council action of an encampment
If gypsies or travellers camp on council-owned land, that is not a traveller site, the relevant local authority (council) is responsible for taking action and arranging eviction.
Private landowner action of an encampment
If an encampment happens on private land, it is up to the landowner to decide how they wish to deal with the situation.
Some landowners are happy to let small groups stay on their land where good relationships are made early on. This is acceptable in the short-term but, longer-term living will require planning permission from the local authority.
However, if the landowner is unhappy with travellers or gypsies staying on their land, they are advised to contact a solicitor and explain the situation.
If the travellers or gypsies refuse to leave, a solicitor will usually suggests the matter is dealt with in the civil courts under Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules (opens in a new window). This typically involves;
- the landowner asking the trespasser to leave
- issuing a court summons
- seeking a possession order in court
- serving the possession order
- carrying out a warrant for possession with county court bailiffs.
This action usually makes gypsies and travellers to move on. In some cases, landowners can engage with private bailiffs to remove unauthorised occupiers without a possession order.
Police action of an encampment
Trespassing is a civil offence rather than a criminal offence and so encampment issues are usually dealt with by either the council where they are on public land, or landowners of private land.
However, officers do have the power to move gypsies or travellers off land where criminal activity has taken place.
In cases where group behaviour goes against the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (opens in a ne window), officers also have discretionary powers to direct travellers and gypsies off land.
If a serious offence has taken place and/or there is significant public disorder, officers may even use their powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (opens in a new window)as long as the Human Rights Act (opens in new window)is followed at all times.