Unauthorised encampments on council land are dealt with by the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit (ECTU). You can report encampments in Thurrock through the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit website.
ECTU follows government guidance, which involves:
- proving ownership of the land
- carrying out assessments for health, welfare and education
- assessing the impact of the encampment on its location
ECTU can apply to court for an eviction order. Some encampments only stay for a few days and leave before the full procedure is completed.
The length of stay depends on each individual case. It takes time to follow the procedures. The process can take 7 to 10 working days if court orders are needed.
ECTU has a target process based on working days. This may start immediately or from the first working day after receiving a report.
- visit the site to confirm location, numbers and intention
- find out who owns the land
- if the land is not privately-owned then get physical proof of ownership
- carry out assessments and welfare checks
- issue a direction to leave, normally with 24 hours to comply
- if the direction is not followed then apply to court
Days 4 and 5:
- serve a summons, which can take 2 working days, or sometimes 1 day in exceptional circumstances
- serve a court order with notice of enforcement after 24 hours – the encampment must leave upon service of the order
- call in bailiffs if the encampment has still not moved
Police can visit an unauthorised encampment and in some circumstances may choose to use emergency powers. It is for the senior officer who visits the encampment to decide what action should be taken.
Residents who feel threatened or suffer anti-social behaviour of any sort should call the police.
An unauthorised encampment on private land is subject to the laws of trespass, which is a civil matter. It is for the landowner to take the appropriate action.
Private landowners are also responsible for the removal of waste from their land.