Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments
1. Criminalising Unauthorised Encampments
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Through the government’s consultation on the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised developments and encampments, the majority of respondents said they believe we should consider criminalising unauthorised encampments, as has been done in the Republic of Ireland. A similar offence also exists in Scotland.
It was generally viewed by respondents to the consultation in 2018 that criminalisation of unauthorised encampments would act as a deterrent to future encampments and allow the police to enforce removal of trespassers in a timelier fashion. Advantages were seen in financial terms in both the cost of evicting trespassers and clean-up costs.
We would like to gather views on broadening the existing categories of criminal trespass.
The government could make it an offence to enter or occupy land subject to certain conditions being met. We would welcome your views on what the conditions and threshold for this offence should be. For example, in the Republic of Ireland it is a criminal offence to enter or occupy land without the landowner’s consent or bring any "object" on to the land - if this is likely to cause "substantial damage". Imposing conditions such as a need to require proof that damage or harm has been caused will help limit prosecutions to cases where there is an element of public disorder for which there is an interest to protect against and explicitly reflect the balance between land owners’ rights to peaceful enjoyment of their property and travellers’ rights to privacy and family life.
1. To what extent do you agree or disagree that knowingly entering land without the landowner’s permission should only be made a criminal offence if it is for the purpose of residing on it?
2. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the act of knowingly entering land without the landowner’s permission should only be made a criminal offence if it is for the purpose of residing on it with vehicles?