Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act
In November 2019, the Home Office launched a consultation entitled ‘Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’. This sought views on ‘broadening the existing categories of criminal trespass’. On 8 March 2021, the Government produced its response to that consultation, in which it indicated the intention to introduce a new criminal offence relating to trespass. The new offence was contained in Part 4 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSCB) which received its first reading the next day. The Act received the Royal Assent on 28 April 2022.
In summary, the Police Act inserts a new section 60C into the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which makes it a criminal offence, punishable with up to three months imprisonment, for someone residing on land with a vehicle to fail to comply with a request to leave the land. The offence applies if a person is residing, or intending to reside, on land without the consent of the occupier of the land, and has, or intends to have, a vehicle (including a caravan) on the land. The residence or intended residence must also have caused or be likely to cause significant disruption, damage, or distress. The request can be made by the occupier, a representative of the occupier or a police constable. If the person fails to leave the land or, having left, re-enters it, he or she can be arrested and his or her vehicle (which could include a caravan used as a home) can be impounded. It is a defence to show ‘reasonable excuse’ for failing to comply with a direction to leave the land.
The new criminal offence, and the other changes to the existing provisions of the 1994 Act, would apply to both England and Wales.
Gypsy and Traveller support groups question the lawfulness of these new proposals. CLP are instructed by two Travellers to challenge this new offence and we are very interested in hearing from any other Gypsies and Travellers who may be adversely affected by the new criminal offence. Please phone our advice line on 0121 685 8677.
FFT have obtained funding for CLP to put together a training pack and carry out training on the new offence and other amendments to the existing police eviction powers.
See at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strengthening-police-powers-to-tackle-unauthorised-encampments/outcome/government-response-to-the-consultation-strengthening-police-powers-to-tackle-unauthorised-encampments-accessible-version
You can find the Bill here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0268/200268.pdf