Gypsy and Traveller unauthorised encampments

Report unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller encampments

Reporting unauthorised encampments

You can report a new unauthorised encampment by completing our e-form.

Report an unauthorised encampment

If you do not have access to the internet, you can ring our switchboard on 0300 300 8301 between 8:30am and 5:30pm Monday to Thursday and 8:30am and 4:30pm on Friday.

Outside of these hours, please report encampments to Bedfordshire police on 101.

Dealing with unauthorised encampments

Upon receiving a report of an encampment within Central Bedfordshire, we will conduct checks to establish ownership of the land camped on.

If the land is privately owned, then the responsibility is that of the land owner, who will be informed of the presence of the encampment where possible. We will give advice as to available options if requested by the land owner.

If an encampment occupies land owned by us, we don't have a duty to move the caravans and vehicles, but we have a power to do so under the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA).

We'll make every attempt to visit the encampment within one working day to conduct an initial visit and assessment.

As a public authority, we have a duty to conduct Education, Health and Welfare checks of the occupants on the encampment.

We have to take account and resolve any relevant issues that become apparent before any decision can be made about eviction. This will only be bypassed if the risk to the occupants outweighs their needs, which will be assessed using all available information.

If there are no issues warranting further attention, we have to decide whether to take eviction action or allow the encampment to remain and be tolerated.

Where possible, we will make every effort to negotiate a leaving date, as well as making agreements for dealing with domestic waste. Domestic waste sacks may be handed out to the occupants.

We will hand the occupants a ‘Good Conduct’ leaflet, which outlines the code of conduct expected by them, as well as advice on how to access services, such as health and welfare.

Our decision to evict will be made after assessing the needs of the occupants compared to the effect the encampment and its occupants are having on the land and the local community. If the effect on the land and the local community outweighs the needs of the occupants, then the decision will be made to evict. As part of this decision-making process, consideration will be given to the group’s previous behaviour and impact on the local community, which includes environmental damage.

Eviction process

Once a decision is made to evict the encampment, we will assess the urgency of the eviction.

If eviction is deemed urgent, consideration will be given to making a formal request to the police to use their powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994 (link opens in new window). It should be noted that this power cannot be used on highway land.

Before a request can be made to the police, one or more of the following criteria has to apply:

  1. there has to be six or more vehicles present, which includes caravans
  2. damage has to be caused to the land or property thereon
  3. occupants have used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour against the land owner, his/her family or his/her agent

If these criteria are fulfilled, the senior police officer present has to make a decision whether to evict under Section 61 or not.

The decision has to be necessary and proportionate, taking account of the rights of the occupants, as well as their personal circumstances.

If the police decision is NOT to evict, then we will use our powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) (link opens in new window).

Council procedure

Our Enforcement Officer will serve a Section 77 CJPOA Direction Notice (link opens in new window) on all the occupants of the encampment, which gives 24 hours for them to leave, taking all their possessions with them.

If occupants do not leave within 24 hours, our legal services will lay a complaint to the court under Section 78 of CJPOA (link opens in new window).

Once the court has accepted the complaint, the magistrate will sign the complaint, after which the court will issue a summons for the occupants to appear at that court.

The complaint and summons will then be served on the occupants, after which a further 24 hrs must elapse before the court case is held.

We will then attend court to present a case to magistrates and to make an application for an eviction order.

Once an eviction order has been issued to us, it will be served on the occupants of the encampment, after which they have 24 hours to leave.

If the occupants fail to leave, we will instruct bailiffs to remove all the vehicles and caravans from the land.

Once the encampment is removed, we will request our waste team to clear and clean the location of any waste, which we aim to do within 48 hours.

Once a Section 77 notice has been issued, the occupants and vehicles are prohibited by law from returning within three months. Return within three months is an offence and the assistance from the police may be sought.

Download our summary of procedures for dealing with unauthorised encampments (PDF 282.2KB)