Who else has powers to move on illegal encampments?
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. The Police can also commence proceedings to move Travellers on if they are obstructing the public highway.
- Under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the police, at their discretion, can instruct trespassers, travellers or gypsies to leave land providing reasonable steps have been taken by, or on behalf of, the landowner to ask them to leave and that two or more persons are trespassing on the land with the common purpose of residing there.
Plus one of the following three conditions must also be met:
- if any of those persons has caused damage to the land or to property on the land; or
- used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards the occupier, a member of his family or an employee or agent of his; or
- Those persons have between them six or more vehicles on the land
On considering whether or not to use the above powers the police will also look at other considerations including making sure that there are suitable legal pitches available elsewhere on a relevant site in the local authority’s area. Other force policies linked to dealing with the travelling community may also apply.
Traveller Cultural Awareness
Whilst Gypsies and Travellers are united by their travelling lifestyles each community within this racial classification has its own distinct culture. Romani and Roma Gypsies and Irish Travellers are all recognised ethnic minorities with their own traditions. Other groups are recognised as Travellers through their patterns of movement and the requirements they have for specific accommodation.
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. This is subject to the proviso that there shall be no interference by a public body with the exercise of this right except when pursuing a legitimate aim in law, as is necessary in:
- a democratic society
- in the interest of national security
- public safety or the economic well-being of the country
- for the prevention and detection of crime
- for the protection of health and moral reasons
- the protection of the rights and freedom of others
In authorising action against Gypsies and Travellers you may wish to consider the above points and consider whether it is a necessary, proportionate and a legitimate process to achieve your aims.