It is not a crime for anyone to occupy a piece of land without consent. It is a breach of civil law. To move them on, the landowner must follow a process through the civil courts. The police have discretionary powers to evict people from land only if they break the law or behave in an anti-social manner.
Thurrock is far from unique in being visited by travellers. Historically, the South East, especially around London, has been popular. The prospect of casual work makes the area attractive.
There is a legal process to go through. After a decision is taken to seek possession of land, in a straightforward case, this takes around 15 days.
Not all travellers leave a mess. The council will prosecute anyone caught dumping rubbish illegally. CCTV equipment is used on regular dumping sites and the council encourages people to report sightings of fly tipping.
The council taxpayer meets the cost when council owned land is affected. Clear-ups are done as quickly as possible, but in some cases where hazardous substances are left on the land, private contractors are needed. The council cannot clear up rubbish on private land, although where public health and safety is an issue, the council can intervene.
The council takes every reasonable precaution to secure its open land. The security of privately owned land is a matter for the landowner and they can obtain advice from Essex Police. Fences and gates can still be removed or opened by determined people. To secure every possible site completely would be too expensive and unsightly.
Contact Thurrock Council on (01375) 652652 or the police on (01375) 391212.