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Unauthorised encampments

14 August 2018

To report a new unauthorised encampment, or if you're a landowner considering taking action and need advice, please select the appropriate authority area. 

ECTU partner authorities - encampment managed by ECTU 

Basildon Braintree Brentwood Castlepoint Chelmsford Colchester
Maldon   Rochford   Tendring   Thurrock   Uttlesford

 

* e-form sent to the Essex Countrywide Traveller Unit. 

Non partner authorities - encampment managed by the local authority 

Injunction 

For details of current injunctions in place, please click the links below:

  • Basildon
  • Harlow
  • Clacton - A High Court injunction has been granted to prevent overnight camping on certain car parks, seafront roads and open spaces over the Clacton Airshow period. It will run from 12.01am on August 17 through to 11.59pm on September 1 and applies to any campervan, mobile home, caravan or tent. Full details of the injunction and a schedule of the areas covered can be found on Tendring District Council’s website

For more help, please email the Essex Countrywide Traveller Unit at ECTU@essex.gov.uk

Frequently asked questions 

What can the police do? 

The police will visit the unauthorised encampment and in certain circumstances may choose to use their emergency powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to move the encampment.  It is the decision of the senior officer who visits the encampment as to whether they apply their powers.  Please contact Essex Police on 101 for further information.

Why don't the police just arrest those making up the encampments?

Trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence.  It is the responsibility of the landowner to take the necessary action to repossess their land, and not the police.  

Can Essex County Council move unauthorised encampments on immediately? 

No. Essex County Council must seek a formal possession order through the Magistrates Court under Section 77/78 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, or the County Court under Part 55 of the Civil Procedures Rules. These include the requirement to: 

  • prove ownership of the land
  • complete assessments for health, welfare and education needs of the encampment occupants
  • assess the impact of the encampment on its location as per the Code for Unauthorised Encampments in Essex 

How long will it take to move on an unauthorised encampment? 

Some encampments only wish to stay for a few days and leave before the above procedure is completed. In certain circumstances we may tolerate an encampment for longer if they comply with the Code for Unauthorised Encampments. 

The length of stay depends on the circumstances of each individual case. If a court order is necessary, the legal process takes 7 - 10 working days which is dictated by legal requirements and can't be shortened.  

What happens if the unauthorised encampments damage property/local environment? 

Breaking in and damaging property are criminal offences and therefore need to be reported directly to the police, who will deal with any crime where they can attribute the damage to specific individuals.  Knowledge of any previous adverse activity will contribute to the police/ECTU decision as to how quickly we proceed with any repossession process.  

How is rubbish left by unauthorised encampment dealt with? 

Unauthorised encampments on local authority land are regularly visited and every effort is made to try to keep the site tidy.  Where rubbish starts to build up, this should be reported to the local authority as fly tipping.  Following the departure of an unauthorised encampment, the local authority will ensure any waste is removed.

Private landowners are responsible for the removal of waste from their land. 

Private land 

An unauthorised encampment on private land is subject to the laws of trespass, which is a civil matter. It is the responsibility of the landowner to take the appropriate action. For more information, contact your local authority.