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Gypsy and Traveller information

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Guidelines for Gypsy and Travellers 

Gypsies and Travellers visiting South Cambridgeshire are asked to follow our advice. Your co-operation may mean you can stay for a short time on suitable land. 

Public land managed by Cambridgeshire County Council are not permitted. This includes:

  • recreation grounds
  • village greens
  • playing fields

If you want to express an interest in living on a Council owned Gypsy and Traveller site or house, contact the Gypsy and Traveller liaison officer on 07702 821402.

If you plan to pull on to any area that is privately owned, you must speak to the landowner first. You will need to:

  • keep groups small: 3 caravans is advised
  • space yourselves out: the Mobile Homes Act recommends 6 metres between caravans for safety
  • look after the land you park on and don't cause problems for nearby residents
  • behave considerately towards others
  • not dump or burn rubbish, instead put your rubbish in black bags
  • park vehicles safely and do not block accesses to fields or other areas
  • keep animals under control and away from public footpaths and rights of way

As long as the guidance above is followed, in most cases we will not pursue an immediate order for the eviction of small groups.

Moving on

When you leave, you must leave the land you were on as you found it. Bag up any rubbish and leave it so it can be collected easily. Afterwards, the area must not be reoccupied within 3 months.

Buying your own land

Before you think about purchasing a piece of land for a Gypsy and Traveller plot you must contact us first as planning permission will be needed. Call us on 01954 713 000 for more information.

The Community Law Partnership has a Traveller's Advice Team who can provide help and support on general Gypsy and Traveller legal matters. Call 0121 685 8595.

Encampment advice

Encampment on private land

If you want the Gypsies or Travellers to leave, we advise you to follow the steps below. This sets out the procedure using common law which in most cases will be the quickest and most appropriate method.

Whilst Gypsies and Travellers are united by their travelling lifestyles, each community within this racial classification has its own distinct culture.

Article 1 of the First Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), gives protection to property in that every person has the right to peaceful enjoyment of his or hers possessions, including land. No person should be deprived of his/her possessions except in the public interest.

Article 8 of the Human Rights Act provides for everyone to have the right to respect for their family life, home and correspondence.

In all cases where legal action is being considered, it is also recommended that you seek suitably qualified legal advice.

Step 1

You can appoint a suitably qualified Enforcement Agent, or choose to carry our the process yourself.

Sept 2

The Enforcement Agent will make a request for the Gypsies or Travellers to leave the land. This is normally done by serving a written Notice.

There is no requirement to give a minimum or maximum period in which to leave, but 24 hours is normally appropriate.

The Notice should also identify:

  • the name of the landowner
  • the boundaries of the land (including a map if possible), and contact details for the Enforcement Agents who would normally deal with the preparation and service of the Notice.
  • consequences of failing to leave the land. For example, that trespassers, vehicles, and caravans may be forcibly removed. It should be handed to an adult on the site. If there is no adult present, it should be fixed in visible and prominent positions around the site.

Step 3

Once the Notice has expired, the Enforcement Agents will either request that you inform them whether it has been complied with or they will return to the land to check whether the Gypsies or Travellers have left.

If they have not moved on, the Enforcement Agents may use reasonable and proportionate force to evict them from the land if they still fail to leave voluntarily.

Both they and the landowner can request the police to attend the eviction if it is likely that a breach of the peace might occur, but the police will not actively assist with the eviction or commit resources to it.

If the trespassers have allegedly committed criminal offences or been responsible for unsociable behaviour, it should be reported to the police.

Other options for eviction can include formal court proceedings by obtaining a possession order. This is known as Possession Proceedings Under Section 55 - eviction by writ of possession (writ is also known as a legal document). 

Court Orders including High Court Writs of Possession can also be used against trespassers.

This can be used when:

  • the group is not willing to move on
  • the number of trespassers is higher. 

Once the Writ is issued, it can normally be enforced immediately.

Dependent on the number of trespassers, it may be necessary to carry out a risk assessment to identify the situation, aims, specific risks, actions and key contacts in relation to the eviction.

If the police are likely to be in attendance, the risk assessment will generally form part of the briefing process.

One of the benefits of carrying out evictions under a Writ of Possession is that the police are obligated to assist with enforcement. It should be noted that the police will not always have resource available to attend at short notice and it may be necessary to work to their timeframes.

Issuing possession proceedings and enforcing with a writ also provides a court sanction for the eviction.

The Police

The Police have discretionary power under Section 61 and 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which empowers the senior officer present to direct people to leave land if certain criteria are met.

They can take action if you have had reasonable steps taken to instruct the trespassers to leave, at least 2 of the trespassers have the purpose of living there, and any one of the following 3 conditions have been met:

  • any of the trespassers have caused damage to the land, or to property on the land
  • a trespasser has used threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour towards the occupier, a member of his family, or an employee or agent of his
  • the trespassers have between them 6 or more vehicles on the land

The Police can also move Travellers on if they are obstructing a public highway.

On considering whether to use the above powers, the police will also look at other considerations including whether there are suitable legal pitches available elsewhere on a relevant site in the local authority’s area.

Other force policies linked to deal with the travelling community may also apply.

Accommodation needs assessment study

The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment 2016 provides information to make sure we are planning to provide the right number of Gypsy and Traveller pitches and Travelling Show people plots in the future.

This enables us to comply with planning policy and legislation in the same way as we plan for the needs of the settled community.

2023 update

Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District councils have commissioned Arc4 to carry out a Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, to help both councils understand the accommodation needs of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities across Greater Cambridge. It will also look at the needs of Travelling Showpeople and other people living in caravans and houseboats. 

The evidence collected will show whether more local accommodation is needed for these groups; and if so, how much. It will help to inform the emerging Greater Cambridge Local Plan, which is currently being developed, and it should also help us to understand the needs of families or groups needing somewhere to stop temporarily in the area. We expect the work to be completed in summer 2024.

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