New law to ban illegal traveller camps in Britain with £2,500 fine and jail threatJanuary 16, 2021
A NEW law is set to ban illegal traveller camps on private land in Britain.
Those who breach the new rules will face a three-month prison sentence, a £2,500 fine, or both.
The reform, to be announced next week, will enable police to seize vehicles and arrest travellers who refuse to move on at the landowner’s request.
As it stands, trespass is a civil offence, forcing landowners to fight lengthy court battles to get intruders off their land.
But it is estimated there are some 23,000 traveller caravans in England, with 14 per cent of those parked on unauthorised sites.
The new law will come as part of a new criminal justice bill this month, and targets unauthorised camps which ministers say can cause distress to local communities and councils through noise, litter and costly clean-ups.
A Home Office source told The Telegraph: “We are delivering on our manifesto commitment to crackdown on the blight of unauthorised encampments.
“These camps cause distress and disruption for millions of people right across the country so it’s right we are giving the police the powers they need to bring this to an end.”
Criminal trespassing will be limited to anyone over 18 who refuses to leave on request of police or landowners.
They may also intend to stay on the land, use vehicles or cause “significant damage, disruption or distress”.
These camps cause distress and disruption for millions of people right across the country so it’s right we are giving the police the powers they need to bring this to an end.
Significant disruption will include interfering with utility supplies, creating excessive noise or littering.
Police will also be able to prosecute travellers if they return to a specific site within 12 months – up from the current three months.
They will be able to dish out fines of up to £2,500 along with three months in jail.
Councils will also be given the powers to send travellers to authorised sites neighbouring council regions – something police are currently banned from doing.
Cops will also be able to act sooner as the threshold for intervention will be dropped from six illegally parked caravans to two.
A spokesperson from Friends, Families and Travellers said: “It is deeply unfair that while the Government is dramatically failing to identify enough land for Gypsy and Traveller families to live on, the Home Secretary is working to create laws to imprison and fine families living on roadside camps for the “crime” of having nowhere else to go.
"The Government must do more to identify land for Gypsy and Traveller people to live and stop placing blame on the very families they have failed. Everybody needs a place to live.”
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