Police ramp up use of new anti-Traveller law
New anti-Traveller law used at least six times this month and four times in June - according to local news reports
Police are increasingly using the new anti-Traveller law as the summer draws on – an analysis of local news reports by the Travellers’ Times can reveal.
The new law, which criminalises the act of trespass with vehicles, has been used at least six times this month (July) and at least twice last month (June) according to local news reports found by the Travellers’ Times.
Under the new law, which is now part of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, a criminal offence is only triggered once a' section 60C' notice is served on a group of Travellers on an unauthorised or ‘roadside’ camp and they then refuse to – or can’t – leave.
The criminal offence is punishable by six months in prison, and/or a £2,500 fine and/or the impounding and confiscation of vehicles and trailers.
So far, according to the news reports, only the police have served the section 60C notice in the last two months. The police forces using the new law include the Croydon Metropolitan Police, Cambridge Police, Cheshire Police and Thames Valley Police, which has used the new law four times.
In all the news reports from July and June, the Travellers left soon after a section 60C notice was served, no arrests were made and no vehicles were impounded.
Section 60C-E of the CJPO Act provides a criminal offence for “residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle”. For the offence to apply the trespasser must have at least one vehicle with them. The trespasser’s residence or conduct on the land must also have caused (or be likely to cause) significant damage, disruption, destruction, or distress.
The landowner, someone representing the landowner, or the police can ask those who have met the criteria of this offence to leave the land. If the individual(s) trespassing fails to leave “as soon as reasonably practicable” after being requested to, the police can arrest them. The police can also seize and remove vehicles from those suspected of this offence.
Travellers served with a section 60C notice, cannot return to the same area within 12 months, and this appears to have been used against two groups of Travellers, who were again moved on after initially being served a section 60C notice nearby.
Previous to the last two months, the Travellers’ Times can only find three instances reported in the local newspapers where the new law has been used since it came into force just over a year ago in June 2022.
In other news, lawyers from Community Law Partnership, have said that their legal challenge to the new law – on Human Rights grounds – are proceeding and that they have now been given permission to challenge the law in the High Court.
This legal challenge could take months to come to court.
The Travellers’ Times also understands that the campaign charity Drive2Survive is currently investigating how many time the new law has been used, using freedom of information laws. The results of this research are expected soon.
The links to the news reports stating that the new law has been used are below:
17th JULY, Croydon, Metropolitan Police: Thornton Heath Iceland: Police evict unauthorised encampment | Your Local Guardian
14th JULY; Newbury, Berkshire, Thames Valley Police: Travellers vacate Newbury Rugby Club pitch (msn.com)
11th JULY; Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Cambridgeshire Police (used twice against the same group): Travellers set up camp near Peterborough Showcase Cinema car park after being moved by police | Peterborough Telegraph (peterboroughtoday.co.uk)
9th JULY; Bicester, Oxfordshire, Thames Valley Police (used twice against the same group): Travellers forced to move on from Bicester land again | Oxford Mail
28th JUNE, Warrington, Cheshire; Cheshire Police: Travellers served with notice to leave Appleton Thorn playing fields - Warrington Worldwide (warrington-worldwide.co.uk)
24th JUNE; Caversham, Berkshire; Thames Valley Police: Travellers moved on by police after causing 'significant distress and disruption' (yahoo.com)
PREVIOUS USES IN 2023
18th JANUARY, Reading, Berkshire: Thames Valley Police: Police evict illegal traveller camp from Woodley and Reading | Reading Chronicle
USES IN 2022
8th SEPTEMBER, Surrey; Surrey Police: Sainsbury's and Pizza Express in Surrey village forced to close due to antisocial behaviour - Surrey Live (getsurrey.co.uk)
22nd JUNE: Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire: Thames Valley Police: Police riot vans gather to move travellers on from Milton Keynes school site | Milton Keynes Citizen
Mike Doherty/TT News
(Main picture: Stock image from Stow Fair (c) Natasha Quarmby)