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If people have set up home on land without permission, they can be moved on. Find out who is responsible for dealing with unauthorised encampments, how to report an unauthorised encampment, and how to report anti-social behaviour associated with an unauthorised encampment.

What is an unauthorised encampment?

An unauthorised encampment is where people are living in vehicles (including caravans) on land without the landowner's permission.

Who deals with unauthorised encampments

It is the landowner's responsibility to deal with an unauthorised encampment on their land, agree a leaving date or obtain a court order to evict them if necessary.

We will usually only deal with encampments on council-owned land, including roadsides and verges.

How we deal with unauthorised encampments on council-owned land

We can move people from unauthorised encampments on council-owned land, including roadsides and verges. We always follow the law and act reasonably.

We cannot remove unauthorised encampments immediately. We must:

  • show that the encampment has been set up without consent;
  • make enquiries regarding general health, welfare and children's education of anyone in the encampment; and
  • ensure we fully comply with the Human Rights Act 1998.

To do this, we follow a procedure based on guidance provided by the Government ( - Dealing with illegal and unauthorised encampments) which involves proving ownership of the land, obtaining details of the encampment, assessing an encampment's effects on the local area and serving notices and summonses to obtain a court order to evict the group from the site.

How long it takes to remove an unauthorised encampment depends on the circumstances and issues of each case.

If we take legal action to move a group on from the land, this can take time to resolve.

In most cases, groups will move on voluntarily, without the need for formal eviction or court proceedings.

What we do when told about an unauthorised encampment

We will:

  • visit the encampment within a day of it being reported so we can check if it is on council-owned or private land
  • notify the group that they are trespassing
  • carry out welfare assessments and ensure that the group are visited by a health visitor or community liaison and education officer
  • where applicable, begin the eviction process.

Reporting an unauthorised encampment

You will need to tell us:

  • where the encampment is;
  • approximately how many vehicles there are on the encampment;
  • what date the encampment arrived; and
  • your contact details.

Reporting anti-social behaviour linked to an unauthorised encampment

To tell us about anti-social behaviour (aggressive, intimidating or destructive activity) associated with an unauthorised encampment you will need to describe:

  • what you saw
  • where you saw it
  • when you saw it
  • who you saw

The information you provide may be used as evidence and may support future enforcement action.