PCC welcomes consultation to find solutions to unauthorised encampments
The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne has welcomed government proposals announced Monday to consult on giving police further powers to deal with unauthorised encampments.
Currently such trespassing is defined in law as a civil matter but the Home Office is consulting on potentially making it a criminal offence.
This follows a Home Office review into how trespassing while setting up an unauthorised encampment could be made a criminal offence in England and Wales, taking lessons from other countries.
As a result, the Home Office is proposing to give police new powers to arrest and seize the property and vehicles of trespassers who set up unauthorised caravan sites.
As part of the consultation, which began this week, the Home Office is also seeking further views from local authorities, police forces, travellers, communities and the general public on alternative measures.
In 2018/19, Sussex had 166 unauthorised encampments. Mrs Bourne comments: “I am very aware of the issues surrounding unauthorised encampments and the disruption they cause to local residents. Many communities across Sussex are affected at some point during the year and their concerns form a significant part of the correspondence to my office.
“This is why I am pleased to see the government responding to the public’s concerns with a consultation to find a suitable solution."
Sussex has a number of transit sites that the police can use in line with Section 61/62 of their powers. This means that those residing in unauthorised encampments can be told to vacate and moved to a dedicated short stay site.
Have your say here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strengthening-police-powers-to-tackle-unauthorised-encampments