Gypsies and Travellers

Find a permanent site, report an unauthorised encampment, and get support to access education, healthcare and fire safety advice

Report an unauthorised encampment

If you'd like to report or get advice on an unauthorised encampment - a camp set up without permission - you can find out who to contact below. Please contact the ECTU by completing this form if the site is in one of the following areas:

  • Basildon
  • Braintree
  • Brentwood
  • Castlepoint
  • Chelmsford
  • Colchester
  • Maldon
  • Rochford
  • Tendring
  • Thurrock
  • Uttlesford

For unauthorised encampments in the following areas, please report it to the relevant authority:

How we’ll deal with your report

We, as the ECTU, can seek a formal possession order through either 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. To do this, we’ll have to:

  • prove who owns the land
  • complete welfare assessments for those on the encampment
  • assess the impact of the encampment using the Code for Unauthorised Encampments in Essex, our policy for managing unauthorised camping

Some groups may choose to move on after a few days. We may allow groups to stay longer if they comply with the code. If a court order is necessary, the legal process takes 7-10 working days. This is dictated by legal requirements and can't be shortened.

Reporting damage and waste

In the event of damage to property, or any other criminal activity, please report this to the police. If there is a problem with rubbish building up, please report this to your local authority as fly-tipping. Once an unauthorised encampment leaves, local authorities will remove waste from land they own. Private landowners are responsible for the removal of waste from their land.

Code for unauthorised encampments in Essex

A nomadic way of life is not against the law. From time to time groups of people come to Essex and temporarily camp on local authority owned land. The code for unauthorised encampments in Essex is a policy for the management of unauthorised camping on local authority or partner land.

Subject to the satisfactory assessment of the following factors, the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit will not normally pursue immediate action if there is a mutually agreed departure date, and continued compliance with the code.

  1. The number of caravans. The maximum number normally acceptable will be three caravans in any one group although larger groups may be permissible in locations remote from residential or commercial premises.

  2. Damage. No damage shall be caused to any property, fences, trees etc on the land occupied, or adjacent land, during access and for the duration of the encampment.

  3. Previous recorded encampments. The behaviour and compliance (or non-compliance) with the code on previous recorded encampments involving the group or individuals within the group will be taken into account for any decision on the current encampment.

  4. Impact on the land and surrounding property. The occupation of any land shall not have a serious detrimental effect on the amenities and their normal use, or otherwise cause nuisance to, the occupants/users of the land and of any adjacent property.

  5. Occupation of local authority or other partner authority land. The occupation of local authority or other partner authority land shall not impede its necessary operational use or, insofar as parkland or other public open space is concerned, shall not detract from its amenity value.

  6. The distance between groups. The minimum distance between unauthorised encampments shall normally be half a mile.

  7. Behaviour. Behaviour towards other members of the public, the land and surrounding properties shall be acceptable i.e. no intimidation especially involving actual violence or the use of abusive or insulting language, no excessive noise, loose or dangerous dogs, no utilising the land as a toilet or any other forms of anti-social behaviour.

  8. Access to the land/encampment. The landowner, agents, representatives, or local authority officers must not be prevented from accessing the land on which the encampment is situated. (This will not include access to individual homes/vehicles).

  9. Tipping/rubbish. There shall be no dumping or inappropriate disposal of household, trade, human or animal waste on the encampment, or on adjacent land, nor any stockpiling of materials.

  10. Fires. No fires shall be lit on any land other than for cooking or washing purposes.

  11. Site Safety. Vehicles shall be parked, and any animals kept, in such a manner as to ensure the safety of the site users and cause no inconvenience to, or affect the safety of users of the land and adjacent properties or nearest highway. Appropriate fire distances to be maintained between caravans.

  12. Departure. Once the agreed period of occupation has elapsed, the site must be vacated and left clear (bagged rubbish for collection will be acceptable) and the distance moved must be at least 2 miles from the previous site occupied. Re-occupation of the same site must not take place within three months.