Ministers to outline plans for crackdown on illegal traveller camps
The Government will today outline plans to toughen up laws around unauthorised traveller camps in a bid to address fears over antisocial behaviour.
Housing Minister Dominic Raab will launch a consultation on whether police and council officials have enough enforcement powers, with a broader look at the provision of legal sites and their impact on the rest of the community.
Figures show around 3,700 caravans are pitched illegally and often spark complaints from local residents over antisocial behaviour, fly-tipping and noise.
The proposals are expected to toughen up rules around “aggravated trespass”, with stiffer sentences for those entering land illegally and potentially intimidating the owner.
The work will be a joint effort involving the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.
Mr Raab said: “The vast majority of the travelling community are decent and law-abiding people. But, we are particularly concerned about illegal traveller encampments, and some of the anti-social behaviour they can give rise to.
“We must promote a tolerant society and make sure there are legal sites available for travellers, but equally the rule of law must be applied to everyone.”
The consultation will also look at the impact on travelling communities, who the Government claims also suffer in the illegal camps, with detrimental effects on their health and education.
Furthermore, officials are expected to look at what barriers currently exist to setting up new legal camps, amid council concerns around local objections.
Yvonne MacNamara, chief executive of the Traveller Movement, said: “We hope that this consultation addresses and deals with the lack of authorised and safe sites available to the Gypsy and Traveller community.
“A lack of funding and political will over many years has perpetuated a severe shortage of sites, which in turn has perpetuated illegal encampments with nowhere else to go.
“The government needs to realise that addressing this issue will in turn address the issue of illegal encampments.”