Unauthorised Encampments - Public Land

Reporting unauthorised encampments

We can only deal with unauthorised encampments on land we own – such as parks, public car parks and roads.

Gypsy and Traveller encampments on public land

Where a Gypsy or Traveller encampment is reported on Council land (including parts of the highway), we aim to visit the site within three working days.

During this visit, an officer will attempt to identify the group and establish its purpose and intentions. In complying with the legal obligations incumbent on all local authorities, the officer will also gather information in regard to the health, education and welfare of the group.

If the Gypsies/Travellers are causing problems they will be moved on as soon as is possible and reasonable but we will consider each case on its merits. This will often involve serving an initial notice of direction requesting the group to leave the area, followed by an application to a court to seek a removal order if the group has not voluntarily moved. This is a process which can take a lot of time.

In all cases the site is visited and every effort made to make sure that the Gypsies/Travellers keep the site tidy and do not cause public health problems. This sometimes means that refuse collection facilities may be provided for this purpose.

We will offer groups short-term relocation to the Gypsy and Traveller transit site at South Treviddo.

Report an unauthorised encampment:

Public land     

How are unauthorised encampments managed on Cornwall Council Land?

We manage all unauthorised encampments on Cornwall Council owned land. This involves:

  • Visiting each unauthorised encampment to make an initial assessment and making follow-up visits as necessary.
  • Initiating and undertaking a welfare assessment. If welfare needs are identified then the assessment will be ongoing.
  • On areas that are considered suitable, the presumption will be that the unauthorised encampment will be accepted for a period of time which will be negotiated with those camping.

The following will be put in place:

  • Arranging to provide facilities for an unauthorised encampment, where appropriate.
  • Negotiating the length of stay according to our unauthorised encampments procedures.
  • Liaising between the Gypsies and Travellers, councillors, the settled community and other agencies and key partners.
  • Keeping accurate records about each unauthorised encampment (by household).
  • Arranging Encampment Review Group meetings where joint-decision making occurs.

Any agreed length of stay will be dependent on campers adhering to our Code of Conduct for unauthorised encampments. We follow government guidance and the legislative framework when managing unauthorised encampments that occur on our land.

Unauthorised Encampment Review Group Meetings

We have an established Encampment Review Group, regular meetings are held as part of its approach to managing unauthorised encampments. Meetings enable decisions on the course of action where any unauthorised encampment is a cause for concern. The group consists of councillors, our staff and key partners such as the Police, and health services. The group works in accordance with the Communities and Local Government Guidance on managing anti-social behaviour related to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

Can the council remove unauthorised encampments from land which they own immediately?

No, the council must

  • Show that the travellers are on land without consent
  • Make enquiries regarding general health, welfare and children's education
  • Ensure that the Human Rights Act 1998 has been fully complied with

To do this, the council follows a set procedure based on Government guidance which involves proving ownership of the land, obtaining details of the encampment, assessing an encampment’s effects on the local area, serving notices and summonses that will enable necessary authority to be obtained from the courts to order Gypsies and Travellers to leave the site.

What is the procedure and timetable for eviction?

We operate a balanced approach towards Travellers, as suggested by case law and Government guidelines. Whenever an Unauthorised Encampment occurs, the Enforcement Officer visits and makes an assessment of the situation.

If it is in a quiet location and causing little nuisance a decision may be made to leave them in place for an agreed period, as there is no point in evicting from one site to a worse one. It is in everyone’s interest to agree a leaving date with the Travellers, as they get a period of stability and we save the not inconsiderable costs of eviction.