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Unauthorised encampments

An unauthorised encampment is when a person or a group move onto a piece of land that they do not own without the permission of the landowner.

Unauthorised encampment:

  • doesn't apply to specific groups but to anyone staying on land without the permission of the landowner
  • is a civil matter, not a criminal offense
  • is a matter between those camped on the land and the landowner.

When dealing with unauthorised encampment:

  • it is the responsibility of the landowners who has to evict people trespassing on their land
  • it is not the responsibility of the police or council
  • the police will work with the council to help manage unauthorised encampment and take action to deal with issues that may arise
  • the council can only remove encampment from council owned land
  • the police will only get involved if criminal behaviour takes place.

Landowner responsibility:

  • Allowing an encampment to remain temporarily may breach planning law and laws dealing with licensing of caravan sites
  • If it does breach any planning or licensing, Medway Council may take action against the landowner to remove the caravans
  • Court actions are likely to follow if a landowner does not comply.

The police will:

  • monitor encampments and the actions of those staying there
  • only end the encampment if criminal behaviour takes place

Police powers can only be applied if two or more individuals stay on the land and the landlord has taken reasonable steps to get them to leave and one the following applies:

1.   damage has been caused to the land or property

2.   threating/abusive/insulting behaviour has been used on the landowner and his family/agent

3.   there are six or more vehicles present.

The council:

  • do not have to remove people or groups from council land
  • only evicts encampment from council owned land
  • will visit sites to ensure the land is tidy during and after eviction.

Eviction process:

The process takes between 10 and 14 working days. The council doesn’t just move an authorised encampment on as it could lead to a lengthy court action, cost and public criticism and delay the process. Instead they follow the following process:

  1. Confirmation of who owns the land
  2. Welfare checks are carried out to see if there are any welfare needs amongst the individuals
  3. If there are no welfare needs, the council can serve a direction to leave
  4. If the individuals remain on the land past the given date, the council will apply to the magistrate’s court for a possession order
  5. Once the encampment has been moved on the council will clean the site.

Delays to the eviction process may occur:

  • if welfare needs are identified
  • during public holidays
  • if there is difficulty obtaining a court date
  • in bad weather (snow, water logging which may stop the vehicles moving)

The court may refuse to grant an order to move an authorised encampment if they think there are unavoidable reasons for one or they feel the council failed to carry out adequate welfare and health checks.

To report any noise/smoke nuisances caused by an unauthorised encampment or for more information contact us on 333 333.