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Guidance on offences under CJPO Act

This content applies to England

This section explains the guidance on Criminal Justice and Public Order Act offences. The original 1994 guidance has recently been replaced with new guidance.

Guidance

The Department of the Environment issued initial guidance in 1994 regarding the offences under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.[1] It stated that where Gypsies and Travellers were camped unlawfully on local authority land but were not causing an uncontrollable nuisance, the authority should have considered tolerating the Gypsies' presence for short periods and should have identified emergency stopping places for Gypsies.

However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (now the Department for Communities and Local Government) then issued replacement guidance, which modified this approach, stating that some authorities could choose not to take enforcement action, but encouraging the allocation of land for authorised sites while pointing out that unauthorised sites can be highly damaging both to the settled community and to Gypsies and Travellers. Local authorities were encouraged to find a negotiated solution, but that if this was not possible they should use the enforcement powers available to them.

Local authorities should consider their duties under the Children Act 1989 (see the page Travellers and homelessness and the page Social services duties to children in need for details), Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (see the page on Travellers and homelessness, and the Homelessness section for details) and the potential need of Travellers for access to local health and welfare services. Local authorities should take these factors into account when deciding whether to evict Travellers.

Case law has found that the correct time to consider these factors is when the authority is deciding whether (and against whom) to make a removal direction and not after a removal order has been made.[3] The case also made it clear that authorities should make the following minimum inquiries:

  • inquiries with social services, health and education authorities
  • gathering information on site occupiers through local authority officers' visits
  • ensuring visits by social services officers, alone and together with any local Travellers' support group representatives.

Further guidance states that all public authorities, particularly local authorities and the police, should make inquires as to the welfare needs of Gypsies and Travellers before evicting an unauthorised encampment.[3]

Wales

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] Department of the Environment Circular 18/94 (see Annex 1, Guidance on managing unauthorised camping, ODPM/DCLG, March 2005).

[3] R v Wealden DC ex parte Stratford; R v Lincolnshire CC ex parte Atkinson [1995] Legal Action October 1995; 31st August 1995, QBD.

[3] Guidance on managing unauthorised camping, ODPM, February 2004, updated to include Anti-social Behaviour Act powers, March 2005.

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