What are the Council's powers regarding unauthorised encampments?
The Council recognises and accepts the rights of Travellers and Gypsies and also those people on whose land unauthorised camping takes place.
Gypsies and Travellers are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.
The Council and other official agencies will work to try to balance the rights of all those involved.
If a group of people are camped on Council land without consent, the Council can recover possession of their land using a County Court Order under the Criminal Justice and Public Disorder Act 1994.
The Police can also use the powers contained in the Act when certain circumstances are met.
What do we do when an unauthorised encampment occurs on our land?
Unauthorised encampments are usually problematic. They rarely provide an appropriate or adequate setting and often result in poor living conditions. The use of the land for its usual purpose will often be prevented.
If the encampment is on Council land, each incident is dealt with on a case by case basis.
Our strategy is to engage with the group of people, carry out welfare checks and attempt to achieve an informal resolution to end the encampment.
If this is not possible then the Council will apply for a Court Order to evict the group of people from the land. This can be a lengthy process – legal and clean-up costs can run into thousands of pounds.
What if the encampment is on someone else’s land?
If the encampment is not on Council land, it is the landowner's responsibility to move the group of people on. The Council will liaise with the landowner to offer support and guidance where applicable.
How to report a suspected unauthorised encampment
Report online at www.surreyheath.gov.uk/report-it