The police can act to remove unauthorised encampments from land in some circumstances.
If the landowner has asked an encampment to leave by a specific time and they have not done so, then police can use legal powers to remove the encampment when either:
- there are 6 or more vehicles on the land
- damage has been done to the land or property
- threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour have been used towards the occupier, a member of their family, their employees or agents
If any of these 3 conditions have been met, police can use Section 61-62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act – called 'Section 61 powers' – to direct the encampment to leave.
Reporting an unauthorised encampment
If you see someone in the act of using force to enter land or a building, phone 999.
Phone 101 – the police non-emergency number – if you see an unauthorised encampment already on land in Thurrock.
A senior police officer will decide whether it is appropriate to use Section 61 powers. The officer must consider whether:
- there have been serious breaches of the peace, disorder, criminal activity or anti-social behaviour that would require police involvement under their wider powers
- it is reasonable and proportionate to use these powers, based on the impact on the environment and the local settled community
- the action by police legally sustainable
- enough police resources available
When Section 61 powers are used, the police decide a period of notice for the encampment to leave the site.
A police officer will visit the encampment and tell them when they must leave – this can be within 24 hours, if necessary.
If the encampment doesn't leave during the notice period, or if they return within 3 months, they would be committing an offence and could face 3 months in prison or a fine of up to £2,500.