Planning Enforcement - Unauthorised Encampments

What is an unauthorised encampment?

The travelling community can experience difficulties finding an approved place to stay. This means that sometimes they stop on land without permission, including highway verges and lay-bys. This Council’s approach is based on preventing unlawful occupation of land.

What happens if the encampment is on Council land?

Encampments on Council land will result in legal proceedings to evict the travellers. In the case of highway land, such as verges and lay-bys, the matter will be taken up with Staffordshire County Council, which is the local highway authority.

What can I do if I do not want to allow encampments on my land?

Trespassing on land is a civil matter, with prevention of trespass being the responsibility of the landowner. If you experience illegal encampments, you need to seek appropriate legal advice.

What about criminal activity associated with some encampments?

The Police will deal with crime when there is a complaint and evidence to support it. In order to investigate criminal activity, evidence from witnesses must be provided, plus witness agreement to support any subsequent prosecution.

Why don't the Police get involved in trespass?

Trespass is not a criminal offence in England: it is a civil matter between landowner and trespasser. As such, the Police don’t tend to get involved unless there is a public nuisance or other criminal activity.

What about Gypsies and Travellers who buy their own land and set up home on that?

Anyone seeking to develop land is required to get planning permission. Gypsies and Travellers are covered by the requirements of planning law, just like everyone else. Planning authorities can serve stop notices or enforcement notices, or apply for court injunctions that can lead to tough penalties.