1. How we deal with unauthorised encampments
An unauthorised encampment refers to caravans and/or other vehicles on land without the landowner or occupier's consent and is therefore trespass. An unauthorised encampment is not a criminal offence.
Where we act to remove an unauthorised encampment we do so as the land owner, and there is not a statutory duty for us to act. We have no powers to intervene if the encampment is on private land.
We will work to remove unauthorised encampments in Teignbridge and to treat all those involved with dignity and respect. We also expect this in return and will not tolerate violent, aggressive or inappropriate behaviour towards our staff.
What we will do
We can only take action if an encampment is on our land. We have no legal powers over privately owned land. For an illegal encampment on our land we will:
Visit the site
This will be done as soon as possible (dependant on day/time of arrival) by appropriate officers and they will find out how long the groups are hoping to stay and why they are here.
Assess any legal needs of the travellers
Before taking any action to evict an unauthorised encampment, we have an obligation to carry out welfare assessments of the unauthorised campers, and where necessary we will inform partner agencies. We must consider whether these enquiries have revealed circumstances which warrant further examination or lead to the conclusion that the eviction should be postponed.
Other considerations in managing such an encampment will include one of toleration, relevant case law, the Humans Rights Act and any other considerations that are laid out in statute.
Hold a review discussion
We liaise with agencies including the Police and other departments who have an interest in the land to determine the most appropriate course of action. This includes the location and nature of the land to which the unauthorised encampment is situated, any impact on the settled community; the needs of those present on site, in particular the presence of any children; any health and welfare needs, the size of the encampment and whether actual anti-social behaviour or criminality has been associated with it.
If you would like to report Antisocial behaviour please use our online form
The Government guidance requires us to exercise some tolerance to such encampments and make decisions based on all available information.
Apply to the Court
If the decision is made to seek possession of the land, we generally use Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules (“proceedings”). In doing so, we obtain a hearing date from the Court and are required to give 48 hours notice to the occupants of the land between service of proceedings and the Court hearing date.
If we fail to follow the statutory and procedural obligations, this may result in an application being refused and delay any subsequent possession being granted.
Attend the Court hearing
We will obtain the Possession Order and serve on the Unauthorised Encampment.
If the unauthorised encampment remains we will return to Court to issue a Warrant of Possession.
Where a possession order has been granted and the unauthorised encampment refuses to vacate the land, the Council will seek enforcement of that Court order using County Court Bailiffs.
Please note that this is a guideline only and dates may slip due to unforeseen circumstances, availability of partner agencies, court availability, weekends and bank holidays.