Dealing with Unauthorised Encampments

Introduction

When land is occupied without the permission of the landowner by those using caravans and camper-vans as a means of habitation this is called an Unauthorised Encampment. 

In legal terms this is a civil matter of trespass between the landowner and the temporary occupants and it is the responsibility of the landowner to deal with the encampment. 

Anti-Social or Criminal Behaviour

A minority of illegal encampment occupants may be involved in some form of behaviour which causes a nuisance or fear and intimidation to people living near to an encampment. Incidents of this nature should be reported to the Police. 

Unauthorised Encampment on Local Authority Land

If the land is owned by a Local Authority, such as a Parish Council, it may apply for a Possession Order through the County Court or evict those using common law but Government policy recommends that the organisation must first show that they have taken the housing, health, welfare and education needs of the occupants into consideration before making the decision to take legal action. This generally involves a visit to the encampment by the an officer of the Principal Authority tasked with dealing with this type of infringement. 

Action Plan for Unauthorised Encampment on land owned by the Parish Council

The policy of the Parish Council is to evict unauthorised vehicles as promptly as practical. 

The cost of removal shall be met by the Parish Council and authorised at the next scheduled meeting of the Council. 

Procedure

The procedure for removal can be initiated by the Clerk and/or Deputy Clerk as officers of the Parish Council and detailed in the job descriptions and terms of reference of those officers. In the absence of the Clerk the Council chairman is authorised to initiate the eviction process with the Parish Council’s solicitor but at no time should any Parish Councillor make direct contact with the occupants at the encampment. 

Unauthorised Encampment on Private Land

If the land is privately owned by a company or individual, the landowner needs to take advice from their solicitor about obtaining a Possession Order through the County Court. 

Action Plan for Unauthorised Encampment on private land not owned by the Parish Council

Neither the Clerk or any Parish Councillor should approach the encampment.

If the matter is reported to the Clerk they should : 

  • Inform the landowner that they have an encampment, inform the police and the principal authority. (district or unitary) 

  • Ask to be informed of progress so that updates can be put on the Parish Council website.

Note: As a private land owner and not being a Local Authority the Parish Council is not required to carry out Welfare Enquiries however to prevent any future grounds for a Judicial review of the re possession action, a Welfare report may be a consideration. 

Helpful Contact Numbers

Specialist Legal Representation may be obtained via Hedley Solicitors Telephone number 01483 284567 

Other assistance will be available via the Principal Authority

Ian Dewar 

CAPALC CEO