Gypsy and Travellers FAQs


Who are Gypsies and Travellers?

Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are defined as minority ethnic groups under the Equalities Act 2010. There are a number of Gypsy and Traveller communities, each have different histories and traditions:

  • Gypsies are Romany ethnic groups who have lived in Britain for around 600 years. Their ancestors originate from northern India.
  • Irish Travellers are a nomadic group with a distinctive way of life who have been part of Irish and British society since ancient times.
  • New Travellers are people of settled background who adopted a travelling lifestyle in the more recent past, although some are now in their third or fourth generation of travelling.

Do you have to provide sites and pitches?

Gypsies and Travellers have accommodation needs as much as the settled population and the Government requires us to identify areas where sites could go.

If sites can be identified through our planning processes it reduces the risk of illegal encampments which can cause conflict with the settled community and can cost us money if legal action has to be taken.

What is a transit site?

Transit sites are authorised sites which are used for short stays. They are provided on a permanent basis by local authorities and have basic amenities and services which include water supply, shared toilets, washing facilities/utility room, and waste disposal. All transit sites are managed and are subject to rent and council tax.

What is a residential site?

Also referred to as permanent sites, these sites are either provided by local authorities or are owned by Gypsies and Travellers. The sites are used as a long-term residence, are managed and have a number of amenities, such as water supply, electricity, individual toilets and utility rooms.

What is an Unauthorised Encampment?

Unauthorised encampments are defined by the Government as "encampments of caravans and/or other vehicles on land without the landowner or occupier's consent and constituting trespass". Unauthorised camping is not a criminal offence. It is a civil offence (trespass), giving landowners the right to repossess their property using the due process of law.

Further information

If you're a Gypsy or Traveller and are seeking local advice on accommodation or site services, or if you're in doubt on any matter relating to Gypsies, Travellers and unauthorised encampments, please contact Cornwall Housing 0300 1234 161