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Gypsies and travellers

It is illegal for anyone to camp on land, if they do not have the owners' permission, planning permission and the appropriate licence.

We will only deal with unauthorised camping on land owned by ourselves. We might sometimes act on behalf of landowners if they ask us to do so.

Can the council remove gypsies/travellers from their land immediately?

No. The Government has advised that when gypsies/travellers are not causing a problem, they are able to stay. Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 we have powers to serve a 'Direction to Move' notice on any encampment which involves vehicles.

Before we can do this we must carry out social enquiries to make sure that human rights are not affected, for example, where someone is ill or pregnant. If there is a case to let someone stay then this must be allowed.

Under this 'Direction' gypsies and travellers usually have to move on within a maximum of ten days.

Unauthorised camping on private land

Landowners are expected to take reasonable precautions to prevent encampments. If they repeatedly fail to do so we will not use our powers to serve a 'Direction to Move'. If gypsies/travellers are camped on council land, we can evict them but if they are on private land, it's the landowner's responsibility.

What if the landowner lets them stay on the land?

Gypsies and travellers are not allowed to stay indefinable unless the landowner has already got planning permission for a caravan site or is a farmer and the gypsies/travellers are helping with farming duties. If they don't have the relevant permissions, they could be in breach of planning and licensing laws.

What can landowners do?

  • talk to the gypsies/travellers to see if a leaving date can be agreed
  • take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a Court Order for the Gypsies/Travellers eviction.

What can the Police do?

The Police will visit all sites reported to them. In certain circumstances (for example, where the gypsies/travellers have with them six or more vehicles), officers may use powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

The duty of the Police is to preserve the peace and prevent crime. Trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence. Prevention of Trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner and not the Police.