Home Secretary Sajid Javid has set out some new measures to make it easier for police officers to intervene and remove travellers from land they should not be occupying. There will also be considerations into making setting up such camps a criminal offence. At the moment it is seen as trespassing, which is a civil matter.
Also the minister for Housing, Communities and local government announced it will provide local authorities with practical and financial support to handle unauthorised sites.
Javid has said:
“The vast majority of travellers are law-abiding citizens – but illegal sites often give an unfair, negative image of their community and cause distress and misery to those who live nearby.
There is a widespread perception that the law does not apply to travellers and that is deeply troubling.
The result of our initial consultation was clear – people want to see greater protection for local communities and for the police to be given greater power to crack down on trespassers.”
Many problems are caused by travellers moving from place to place, so the government is reminding local councils of their obligation to make sure there are enough ‘transit sites’ to reduce the risk of encampments popping up in unauthorised places.
Councils will be able to spend an additional £1.5 million to enforce planning rules and tackle unauthorised sites. Also, some of the £9 billion budget under the Affordable Housing Programme will go towards paying for legal pitches for travellers.
£200,000 will go towards supporting projects dedicated to working with traveller communities in order to help tackle issues of discrimination, integration, healthcare and education.
There has also been debate into the government making a list accessible to show where travellers can legally set up camp. This will also help to identify which areas are not offering their fair share of traveller sites.
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