Everyone has rights, including travellers and gypsies and people
on whose land unauthorised camping takes place.
Gypsies and travellers are protected from discrimination by the
Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998, together
with all ethnic groups who have a particular culture, language or
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.
The travelling lifestyle
Gypsies and travellers pursue a way of life that means that
they travel the country staying for various periods of time in
different locations, in order to earn a living. This has been their
way of life for many generations.
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
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
If gypsies/travellers camp on private land, the landowner
- Talk to them to see if a leaving date can be agreed.
- Take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure
Rules 1998 to obtain a court order for their eviction. There must
be a minimum of two clear days between service of documents and the
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. You may wish to seek further advice
from the our Environmental Health section, who deal with illegal
If the landowner fails to take the appropriate action to remove
the gypsies or travellers, then the council will take
proceedings against the landowner to require removal of the illegal
Camps on the side of the road, parks or other council-owned
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 their land
immediately. We must:
- Show that they are on the land without consent.
- Make enquiries regarding the general health, welfare and
- Ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied
- Follow a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land
and details of the illegal 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 court can refuse to grant the council an order to move
the gypsies or travellers on if there is an unavoidable reason for
them to stay on the site, or if the court believes that the council
have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health
and welfare of the gypsies and travellers. The council must try to
find out this information before going to court.
The police will visit all sites reported to them. In certain
circumstances (for example, where the gypsies and travellers have
with them 6 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
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.