Unauthorised Encampments: what is the answer?
An Unauthorised Encampment (UE) is a site on which people have set up home on land without the landowner’s consent; this can include both private and local authority land and the responsibility for dealing with a UE rests with the landowner.
Where a UE occurs on private land, the land owner can use various common law rights to recover their land and when it occurs on land owned by the local authority, local police and the authority will work with other agencies to balance the needs of travelling and settled communities.
Sage Patel of the Dispute Resolution and Employment team at Invicta Law delivered training to the Kent Secretaries meeting to lawyers from District Councils in Kent on UEs on 4th December. It was well received and opened up a debate regarding whether a Section 78 application to the Magistrates Court is the answer to the issue of Unauthorised Encampments.
Section 78 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 refers to ‘Orders for removal of persons and their vehicles unlawfully on land’ and can only be used by local authorities. It allows the authority to make an order requiring the ‘removal of any vehicle or other property which is so present on the land and any person residing in it’.
There is uncertainty amongst authorities about the best solution for Unauthorised Encampments; debates have explored whether or not there will ever be one, or if it will remain an ongoing problem, in which the local authority will continuously be subject to the costly and timely issues they cause.
For more information on Unauthorised Encampments and other areas of Gypsy and Traveller law, contact Sage Patel, or download our scheme leaflet.