Gypsy and traveller sites
Everyone has rights, including travellers and gypsies and people on whose land unauthorised encampments take place.
Gypsies and travellers are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010 and the Human Rights Act 1998, together with all ethnic groups who have a particular culture, language or values.
The aim of this information is to set out how the council and other official agencies will work to try to balance the rights of all those involved.
An unauthorised development is where gypsies or travellers have bought land and are residing there without planning permission. This is not a Police matter, but is dealt with by Wyre Council planning department.
Wyre Council has adopted a multi-agency protocol for dealing with all unauthorised encampments. This involves in the first instance, conducting a risk assessment with agencies such as the Police, the Fire and Rescue Service and Environmental Health and a code of conduct agreement for those residing on unauthorised encampments.
Camps on council or private land
We do not have a duty to move gypsies and travellers when they are camped without the landowner's permission. If gypsies or travellers are camped on council land, then we can evict them.
If they are on private land, it is usually the landowner's responsibility. The government has advised that when gypsies and travellers are not causing a problem, the site may be deemed as ' temporarily tolerated' and this will be evaluated by the risk assessment process.
Unless the landowner has already obtained planning permission for a caravan site or is a farmer and the gypsies or travellers are helping with fruit picking and such like, then the landowner could be in breach of the planning acts and the acts dealing with the licensing of caravan sites.
Camps on the side of the road, parks or other council-owned land
If gypsies or travellers are causing problems they will be moved on as soon as is possible and reasonable. We will consider each case on its merits. In all cases the site is visited and every effort made to make sure that the gypsies and travellers keep the site tidy and do not cause public health problems. This sometimes means that refuse collection facilities may be provided for this purpose.
We cannot remove gypsies or travellers from land immediately. Under our agreed multi-agency protocol as well as under our legal duty, we must:
- Show that they are on the land without consent,
- Make enquiries regarding the general health, welfare and children's education,
- Ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied with,
- Follow a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land and details of the unauthorised encampment that will enable us to successfully obtain the necessary authority from the courts to order the gypsies or travellers to leave the site.
The Police and Wyre Council will visit all sites reported to them. In certain circumstances (for example, where the gypsies and travellers have with them six or more vehicles), officers may use powers under section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These powers will only be used in situations of serious criminality or public disorder not capable of being addressed by normal criminal legislation and in which the trespassory occupation of the land is a relevant factor.
The Police are bound by the Human Rights Act and may be constrained to avoid using section 61 in circumstances where it would preclude welfare considerations from being applied by the civil courts.
The duty of the Police is to preserve the peace and prevent crime. Trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence. Prevention of trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner and not the Police. The Police will investigate all criminal and public order offences.
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