Exclusive: Police Chiefs release guidance on the new anti-Traveller law - seen by the Travellers' Times
The National Police Chiefs Council has released a copy of their guidance on how police forces should enforce the new anti-Traveller law to the Travellers' Times.
The new law, which criminalises trespass with or within vehicles with the intent to reside, can be enforced from today - Tuesday 28th June.
Travellers on unauthorised camps falling foul of the new law could face prison, a £2.5k fine, and/or seizure of vehicles.
The police guidance states: "When considering how to respond, police should consider the potential impact issuing a direction to leave, arresting a person or seizing a vehicle may have on the families involved and on the vulnerable, before taking an enforcement decision.
On occasions other agencies may request police officers to accompany them to an incident to assist them for a lawful purpose. Such assistance is a matter for local discretion. Officers must take care to ensure that they do not become agents for the other parties, and on such occasions maintain neutrality from the other’s purpose, but to provide reassurance to all involved that the peace will be maintained."
"If vehicles are seized during incidents of this nature, officers must be aware that these are, in effect, people’s homes, and links to relevant local authorities should be established to ensure subsequent appropriate accommodation is provided.
Incidents of this nature also have potential wider issues in respect of children and animals from a safeguarding perspective and forces should ensure they have local policies and procedures in place to deal properly with such circumstances."
The police chiefs guidance also appears to allay concerns from lawyers supporting Travellers that the new criminal offence could be determined by land owners and instead the guidance firmly states that it is the police who ultimately decide whether a criminal offence is committed.
"The word significant will be crucial in establishing if any criminal offence has been committed under this new legislation," states the police guidance.
"Possible definitions for “significant” damage, disruption or distress are outlined in the statutory guidance which states that the police will be the party who determines if any “significant” damage, disruption or distress has been caused.
The statutory guidance states: “If the police deem the harms to not be significant, then the offence under Section 60C would not apply.”"
The government has yet to publish it's statutory guidance on the new anti-Traveller law. The TT has approached them for comment.
The Police Chiefs Council guidance will be uploaded to their website later today or tomorrow.
Meanwhile, our readers can see a copy of the police guidance in the download below. Exclusive to the Travellers' Times:
Friends, Families and Travellers and Lawyers from Community Law Partnership will now be studying both the police and the yet to be published government guidance to determine what effect it may have on the nomadic way of life.
In the meantime the FFT advice on what to do if the new law is used against you can be found here.
UPDATE: The Government has just released its own statutory guidance which can be found here: Statutory Guidance for Police on Unauthorised Encampments (publishing.service.gov.uk)