To report an unauthorised encampment, or if you're a landowner considering taking action and need advice, please select the appropriate authority:
Harlow town-wide injunction
Harlow Council and Essex County Council were granted an interim town-wide injunction from the High Court banning the setting up of unauthorised Traveller encampments in Harlow on Tuesday 3 March 2015.
For more help, please email the Essex Countrywide Traveller Unit at ECTU@essex.gov.uk.
* e-form sent to the Essex Countrywide Traveller Unit.
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. It is for the senior officer who visits the unauthorised encampment to decide what action should be taken.
Can Essex County Council move unauthorised encampments on immediately?
No, the county council must:
- show that the unauthorised encampment is on the land without consent
- have regard for the general health and welfare of the group and children’s education
- comply fully with the relevant legislation.
Essex County Council therefore has a set procedure based on government guidance that involves:
- proving ownership of the land
- carrying out assessments for health, welfare and education criteria
- assessing the impact of the encampment on its location
The county council may then make an application to the court for an eviction order.
How long could they stay?
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 there is minimal impact on the neighbourhood.
The length of stay depends on the circumstances of each individual case. Time is required to follow the procedures. If court orders are necessary, the process can take 7 to 10 working days.
What happens if the unauthorised encampments damage property/local environment?
Breaking in and damaging property are criminal offences and therefore the police will deal with any crime where they can attribute damage to specific individuals. In such cases these individuals could be prosecuted. Knowledge of any previous activity will contribute to our decision as to how quickly we proceed with any eviction process.
Trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence. Prevention of trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibility of the landowner and not the police.
How is rubbish left by unauthorised encampment dealt with?
Unauthorised encampments on council land are regularly visited and every effort is made to try to keep the site tidy. Where rubbish starts to build up, this information will contribute to our decision as to how quickly we proceed to court to get an order. Following the departure of an unauthorised encampment, the local waste authority will ensure any waste is removed.
Private landowners are responsible for the removal of waste from their 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.