Unauthorised traveller encampments

Police action against unauthorised encampments

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.

The process

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.