Unauthorised encampments

Unauthorised camping is a civil offence, but it is not a criminal offence. Acts of vandalism, such as fence cutting, are a criminal offence. The police may consider taking action against an individual if there is clear evidence linking them to forced entry.

In most circumstances, it is the landowner's responsibility to evict unauthorised encampments.

Report an unauthorised encampment

All evictions must comply with the law. Typically, this results in the process as follows:

  • the landowner informs the campers that they must move and if they intend to seek a court order if they refuse
  • the landowner applies for a court hearing date
  • campers are given a minimum 2 days' notice of the hearing date
  • the landowner obtains an eviction order from the court - these orders are usually served on the campers on the same day and eviction normally takes place within a few days

The landowner may also remove unauthorised occupiers through the exercise of common law and the tort of trespass, through the instruction of bailiffs.

Government guidance

Government guidance on unauthorised encampments states that if the encampment is causing 'little or no nuisance' a policy of toleration should be considered together with a negotiated leaving date.

The council also has a duty to establish if travellers on its land have special medical needs and to offer school places to children.

In dealing with unauthorised encampments, we recognise the rights of travellers, for example under the Human Rights Act and the Race Relations legislation. Council officers will seek to make sure that their actions are proportionate and balance the needs of travellers with the needs of the settled community.

Fly tipping

If fly tipping and fouling of the land has occurred and remains after the site has been vacated it is the landowner's responsibility to arrange and pay for the clean up. We urge local landowners to take steps to protect their land from unlawful trespass to prevent large clear-up costs.