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 08:30 am and 5:30pm Monday-Thursday and 08:30am 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, the council 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. The council will give advice as to available options if requested by the land owner.

If an encampment occupies Central Bedfordshire Council land, the council does not have a duty to move the caravans and vehicles, but it has a power to do so under the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA).

The council will make every attempt visit the encampment within one working day to conduct an initial visit process and assessment.

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

The council has 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, the council then has to decide whether to take eviction action or allow the encampment to remain and be tolerated.

Where possible, the council 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.

The council 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.

The decision by the council 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, the council 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. 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 made 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 the council will use its powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA).

Council procedure

The council’s Enforcement Officer will serve a Section 77 CJPOA Direction Notice 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, the council’s legal services will lay a complaint to the court under Section 78 of CJPOA.

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.

The council 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 the council, it will be served on the occupants of the encampment, after which they have 24 hours to leave.

If the occupants fail to leave, the council 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.

Social media

Central Bedfordshire Council fully engages in all social media and may respond to posts placed on by the local community. Please do not use social media to report encampments. The council will not condone any racist or prejudice comments. The council is a close partner of Bedfordshire police who has close links to all our social media, so please be careful of the content you post.

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