Sajid Javid announces new police powers to crack down on illegal traveller sites
Police forces will be handed tougher powers to tackle illegal traveller sites under fresh plans announced by Sajid Javid.
The Home Secretary said the illegal encampments had caused communities “significant distress”.
Last year, ministers launched a consultation on the effectiveness of current enforcement measures after widespread complaints from MPs and residents about trespassing, noise and anti-social behaviour.
Under the new plans, police will be able to increase the time from three months to a year in which illegal campers are barred from returning to a specific site.
Authorities will also be able to direct travellers away to authorised sites in neighbouring council districts. Currently police are banned from moving travellers to sites outside the council area they are camped in.
And police will be able to act sooner as the threshold for intervention will be dropped from six illegally parked caravans to two.
Mr Javid said: “The vast majority of travellers are law-abiding citizens – but illegal sites often give an unfair, negative image of their community and cause distress and misery to those who live nearby.
“There is a widespread perception that the law does not apply to travellers and that is deeply troubling.
“The result of our initial consultation was clear – people want to see greater protection for local communities and for the police to be given greater power to crack down on trespassers.”
As of July 2018, there were a total of 22,662 traveller caravans in England, of which 14 per cent were parked on unauthorised sites.
The Home Secretary warned that further action could be taken as he announced a fresh review into fully criminalising unauthorised encampments, as has been done in the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Javid said: “This view has been echoed in the wide-ranging debates in this House.
“I am therefore pleased to announce that we will conduct a review into how we can achieve this.”