Some changes have been made to the legislation regarding how and when the police are able to deal with unauthorised encampments, such as those we see springing up from traveller communities.
Basically, the amendments made under the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill 2021, in relation to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, make it clearer as to what is actually ‘an offence’ and easier for the police to intervene (in theory…)
But what difference does this make to landowners who find they have an issue with trespassers?
Simply put, it will now be an offence to “reside on land without consent in or with a vehicle” just as will it be to have intent to do so.
Any adult will commit an offence if they intend to or have at least one vehicle with them, and if they fail to move (as soon as reasonably practicable) once directed by the owner, a representative of the owner or the police.
The devil is always in the detail here, or the subsections to be more precise, and within the subsections it states how a person will be committing an offence if they “cause or are likely to cause significant damage or disruption of either residing or intending to reside on the land or their conduct or potential conduct whilst on the land.”
A lot of talk about ‘intent’ and ‘potential’ here, two highly subjective ideas, but when you’re as experienced with these issues as we are at #TeamCES, it becomes a lot easier to read someone’s intent and understand their potential.
But what about the police? Are they as skilled in the management of these issues?
We’d argue probably not, and our success rate speaks for itself, but what do the changes mean for police arriving on the site, if that’s the route you choose to go down?
Amendments now mean that police can get involved when the number of vehicles on site amounts to 2, whereas before it was 6. The time limit imposed for travellers to not return to a particular site has also quadrupled, from three to twelve months. This can only be imposed if there is proof of damage, distress and disruption, but in fairness, police have now been given the power to remove encampments and vehicles.
There have been several other tweaks and amendments, but what our clients really want to know is – will the police be able to remove illegal encampments and trespassers quickly and effectively?
Unfortunately, the answer is likely to be ‘no’…
The police have always had to tread the line between the law and Human Rights Acts, whereby they have had to prove beyond doubt that there were serious breaches of the law taking place, or high levels of disruption and damage to the communities and environment in action, long before they could get boots on the ground to set the wheels of an eviction in motion.
Given that the trespassers can be experienced in knowing how to ‘play the game’, this is likely to remain an issue for the police.
Our methods are built on mutual respect, understanding and empathy, which we always show to those we remove from our clients’ land.
That’s all just bluster though, you might be thinking.
Well, if the words don’t do it for you, our 100% eviction success rate should give you all the information you need…
The police can only do so much, even with these latest amendments.
We can do so much more.