Gypsy and Traveller information
Unauthorised encampments (UE)
These are when a person or community intend to camp, live or trespass on land they do not own. Buckinghamshire experiences UE's which can cause tensions within local communities.
In order to address this, the Planning and Enforcement Team created a 'Memorandum of Understanding' between BCC, the District Councils and Thames Valley Police. This sets out an agreed process for dealing with UE's.
This aims to take a balanced and proportionate approach to dealing with UE's which is based on an assessment of the impact of the UA in question. This will includes liaising with landowners, settled communities and those encamped, in order to explain where action is taken/not taken and the reasons for this.
If Gypsies or Travellers camp on private land, what can the landowner do?
Start by talking to them to see if a leaving date can be agreed. If this fails they can take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a court order for their eviction.
Does the Council have a duty to move Gypsies/Travellers when they are camped without the landowner’s permissions?
No. If it is private land, it is usually the landowner’s responsibility.
What if the landowner decides to let them stay on the land short term?
The landowner must obtain planning permission from the District Council for a caravan site or is a farmer and the Gypsies/Travellers are helping with fruit picking etc.
I have seen camps on the side of the road, parks or other council land, what can the council do?
If they are causing problems they will be moved on as soon as possible. In all cases, the site is visited and every effort made to make sure that the site is kept tidy and does not cause public health problems.
Can the Council remove Gypsies/Travellers from their land immediately?
No, the council must:
- show the Gypsies/Travellers are on the land without consent
- make enquiries regarding the general health, welfare and children’s education
- ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied with
- they must also follow a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land and details of the UE that will enable them to obtain the necessary authority from the courts to order the site to be vacated
How long will it take or the Gypsies/Travellers to be removed?
This will depend upon each individual case.
Can the court refuse to grant the council an order to move Gypsies/Travellers on?
Yes. If there is an reason for them to stay on the site, or if the court believes that the council have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the people. The Council must try to find this out before going to court.
What can the police do?
The police will visit all sites reported to them. In certain circumstances, an officer may use powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These powers will only be used for serious criminality or public disorder and are capable of being addressed by normal criminal legislation.
The police are bound by the Human Rights Act and may be constrained to avoid using section 61 in circumstances where it would preclude welfare considerations from being applied by the civil courts.
The duty of the police is to keep the peace and prevent crime.