Illegal encampments

We have two legal campsites specifically for the Gypsy and Traveller community.

Setting up a camp on someone's land without their consent is unlawful.

If it's on our land

Occasionally there will be illegal encampments set up on land owned by us.

If this happens we'll visit each site and consider each case. By doing this we'll make sure we take into account things like:

  • Obstruction of the land needed for a specific purpose
  • Reasons why the travellers are on the land
  • Public health matters
  • Statutory nuisance
  • Human rights of both neighbours and the travellers
  • Welfare needs
  • Medical needs
  • Education needs of the travellers

Where there is no pressing reason for the encampment and/or they are causing problems they will be moved on as soon as possible using the legal procedure under powers available to us.

You can report and encampment on public land by emailing environmentalprotection.admin@gravesham.gov.uk or by phoning 01474 337334

If it's on private land

If an encampment is set up on private land, it's the responsibility of private land owners to take lawful steps to request that they leave the property and to give them reasonable notice to do so.

If this doesn't work then land owners can take action for trespassing or seek eviction. It's also the land owner's responsibility to remove the rubbish left by the travellers and to secure the site after they leave.

Legal powers

The Police also have discretionary powers to get travellers to leave. They can use these powers where they are satisfied that two or more people are trespassing on the land, and the landowner has taken reasonable steps to make them leave but the travellers have not done so. In addition, one of the following also has to apply:

  • Damage has been caused to the land or property
  • Threatening / abusive / insulting behaviour has been used against the occupier, his family or agent
  • The trespassers have six or more vehicles.

Any enforcement of this type requires considerable resourcing. Consideration has to be given to having sufficient police officers available, which may in itself take some time to arrange. The Police will only deal with crime, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour committed by gypsies and travellers when there is a complaint and evidence to support it, just as they would when committed by anyone else.