In 2018 the Ministry of Communities and Local Government conducted a consultation to establish the effectiveness of the powers of the police and local authorities in relation to unauthorised developments and encampments. The response to that consultation signalled clear calls for the Government to improve enforcement against unauthorised encampments. In response, the Government announced that police powers to direct people away from unauthorised sites (under sections 61 and 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act) would be amended, by lowering the criteria that must be met before the police can direct people away. The consultation also highlighted calls to criminalise unauthorised encampments. The PLA responded to that consultation and the clear message from our members was that the police seemed unwilling to exercise their powers even when entitled to do so.
The Home Office is now consulting on the possibility of criminalising unauthorised encampments OR extending police powers:
The Law Reform Committee would like to hear from any members with their views on this consultation. In order to assist us in responding please address the following three questions (in as much detail as you care to provide):
- Would you rather see the creation of a criminal offence for trespass or the extension of police powers under s.61 and s.62?
- Should it only be a crime to knowingly enter land without permission if it is for the purpose of residing on it, rather than trespass for some other reason?
- Would you apply any other conditions to the criminalisation of entering land without permission (examples might include, entering the land with a caravan or a vehicle; being likely to cause damage to the land; being asked to leave and refusing; acting in a threatening or anti-social manner; demanding money from the land owner; or preventing the land owner from using the land)?
With apologies for the short notice, please contact Sabrina Furneaux-Gotch or Charlotte Tyfield, who are co-ordinating the Association’s response by e-mail to email@example.com before 5.30pm on Friday, 21 February 2020.