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Unauthorised encampments

Unauthorised encampments

Wokingham Borough Council recognises and accept the rights of travellers, together with all ethnic groups who have a particular culture, language or values.

Our objective is to manage all unauthorised encampments (not limited to but including traveller encampments) on council land with consideration. We recognise the need to balance the rights of travellers and campers with the rights of the community to enjoy open spaces:

Report an unauthorised encampment

You can report an unauthorised encampment to Wokingham Borough Council on 0118 974 6000.

Any crime, disorder or nuisance associated with an encampment should be reported to Thames Valley Police on the 101 phone number or via Thames Valley Police website. If it is an emergency call 999.

If the land is owned by the council

Council officers will visit the site within one working day to make an assessment of the situation and carry out welfare checks. Welfare checks include signposting the occupants of the site to housing advice, medical facilities or any other service they may require. At this point the occupants of the land are told that they are trespassing and inform they must vacate the site otherwise legal action may be taken.

If the land is privately owned

It is the land owner’s responsibility to take the necessary action to evict. The landowner can attempt to agree a leaving date with the trespassers or take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a Court Order for their eviction.

Landowners are recommended to seek legal advice as soon as the encampment arrives. We can offer help and advice to private landowners, however we can't take action on their behalf:

Police responsibilities to unauthorised encampments

Thames Valley Police will monitor unauthorised encampments for:

  • Crime, disorder and nuisance associated with any authorised encampment
  • Liaison with the landowner for any welfare concerns

The Police may use powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to direct trespassers to leave land, if they consider it appropriate (although Section 61 cannot be used on encampments on the highway). These powers are discretionary and they will considered when reviewing the most appropriate action to take.

The presence of an encampment without any aggravating factors should not create an expectation that police will use eviction powers. The police are bound by the Human Rights Act and need to consider the rights of both the site residents and the wider community. It is for the police alone to decide if Section 61 should be used.

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