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Eviction of Gypsies and Travellers by the police

You could be evicted by the police if you are trespassing on private or publicly owned land.

Police powers to move Gypsies and Travellers

The police can't move you on if you have permission to be on the land.

If you are trespassing on land, the police have the power to direct you to leave if:

  • there are 2 or more of you trespassing
  • you have 6 or more vehicles parked on the land
  • one of you has caused damage or behaved in a threatening or abusive manner

A police officer above the rank of constable must be present.

If there is a suitable alternative site available, the police can tell you to move even if you have fewer than 6 vehicles on the land.

If the council or another public authority owns the land, they must consider your human rights and other welfare considerations such as your children's education before asking you to leave.

Action the police can take if you don't move on

The police will ask you to move as soon as it's practical for you to do so. You should be given time to pack up the site and fix any broken-down vehicles.

It's a criminal offence if you:

  • don't leave with your vehicles within the time you're given
  • return to the same land within 3 months

You may be fined or even put in prison if you are convicted.

If you are prosecuted, you may have a defence if you can show, for example, that you:

  • were not trespassing on the land
  • had a reasonable excuse for failing to leave the land as soon as you reasonably could

The police have the right to tow away and impound your vehicles. They must serve you with a removal notice telling you:

  • where your vehicle is
  • what charges you need to pay before you can get it back

If you don't reclaim your vehicle within 21 days, the police can sell or destroy it. They must return any sale money to you, keeping the money for any charges you owe.

Criminal offences during eviction

The police can charge you with a criminal offence if your site is causing problems in the area or if there is trouble when the police arrive to move you on.

You can also be arrested if the police think it's necessary.

Complaints against the police

If you believe the police have mistreated you, you can complain to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Further advice

Organisations that provide advice and assistance for the Gypsy and Traveller communities include:

Last updated 20 Dec 2016 | © Shelter

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