Illegal occupation of land

There have been a number of cases recently of people seeking to occupy land against the wishes of the landowner, where there are no suitable facilities for overnight and longer stays.

Parliament has legislated to give powers to landowners and the police to ban illegal occupations, but some Councils are concerned that these powers are not strong enough. I have taken this matter up with Government Ministers and will let readers see their reply.

The powers are under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Section 61. I have requested the authorities to use the powers available which they have done successfully in some cases. The police can take action in specified circumstances against trespassers. At issue is what should the police have to establish before moving against illegal occupation?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

32 Comments

  1. The Prangwizard
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    People? Sometimes your obsessions makes you sound ridiculous. In this case most certainly. You deserve to be ridiculed.

  2. Peter
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Should be left to an army task force. Collective responsibility for the whole group of trespassers. Immediate action. No requirement to get court orders.

    Seize or destroy selection of vehicles involved. Random checks for insurance and road tax on all of them. Goods seized where there is criminal damage or fly tipping.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2018 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Indeed you need to deter then it will not happen much and you will have few cases to deal with. But we not have policing without deterrents. Unless you go one mph over the speed limit, file you tax return late or go one minute over on the parking that is.

      Those it seems are real crimes that need deterrents.

      • Peter
        Posted September 8, 2018 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

        ‘Anarchy-tyranny’ in paleoconservative terminology. Failure of the state to enforce the laws against ‘traditional’ criminals coupled with enforcement of the law for oppressive purposes ( Thought crimes , unkind speech etc).

  3. Lifelogic
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    The police, in my experience, will try to do little or nothing whenever and wherever possible. Other than where some potential fine income can be made such as speeding by 1mph or parking for a minute over). This of course sends out the message load and clear to encourage more & more such illegal occupations or other crimes.

    As we see with the police even advertising that shop lifting up to £200 (per incident one assumes) will be largely ignored. So you can get quite a lot in a day.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-42492488

    Then again Corbyn proposes just to effectively just steal assets off landlords as indeed did Miliband’s Tombstone. This would be even worse. Socialist dope May is not much different in her thinking either!

  4. Anonymous
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    This (and other examples of lawlessness) is a serious risk to the stability of this country.

    The police and the authorities are shown to be spineless when it comes to certain groups so we’ve lost respect for them too. Zero tolerance on speeding could be the last straw and would see widespread defiance.

    We’d actually be better off without the police. Then we could at least put up effective self defence measures.

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 7, 2018 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      What we have seen is various other offences ignored by the police, not just illegal occupation. Theft, vandalism, fly tipping, motoring offences…

      Instead we get “Imagine if you had to move on every few weeks” or “We treat all communities equally” from chief police officers.

      It is quite clear that the police would criminalise the settled community sooner than the new arrivals.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        This certainly seems to be the general approach taken by the police – do nothing whatsoever if you possible can. Threaten the land owner with legal action too if he tries to do anything and tell him to take his own expensive and largely pointless legal actions. And then pay to clear it all up after they have gone.

  5. Richard1
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    These laws are not enforced nearly strictly enough. The police need to move hard and aggressively against illegal land occupation, and the frequent damage, destruction and crime often associated with it. Our police need to take the message from Rudi Guiliani’s mayoral term in New York – zero tolerance and enforce the law and crime plummets everywhere. The criminals get the message soon enough.

    • eeyore
      Posted September 8, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      The Act, which can be read online, lays down strict conditions for eviction. There must be two or more trespassers, they must clearly intend staying and they must be abusive or threatening. Only if they have six or more vehicles can they be moved without these conditions being met.

      Calls for peremptory eviction are not acceptable. Even squatters and travellers have rights. To override them is to weaken the rule of law.

      The six-vehicle requirement makes no distinction between a moped and a double-decker bus. It is arbitrary and an invitation to game the rules, and should be amended.

      • Pauline Jorgensen
        Posted September 8, 2018 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        Even when there are more than 6 vehicles intent on staying and where police have witnesses abusive and threatening behaviour it can take quite a lot of pressure to move them on. We need a stronger law so that they can be held responsible for the mess and criminal damage.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted September 8, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        What idiotic MPs put these silly restriction in so they could get round eviction. Is it fine for people (who are perhaps not threatening) or threatening but with just five vehicles to move in and stay on your land (dumping more and more rubbish every day)?

        The police and LEAs will usually use these exemption to do nothing if at all possible in my experience.

  6. Know All
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Obama has just said something about Trump. Good he stopped after a bit. So that is okay again

    • Anonymous
      Posted September 8, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Obama helped cause Trump… and Brexit !

      What I want to know is this. When the Right get in power “The country is divided” when the Left are in power “The country is united.”

      The simple fact is this. Those on the Right accept democracy even when it doesn’t go their way – hence the peace during the Obama years. Those on the Left kick off when it doesn’t go their way and try to overturn the democratic vote.

      We are seeing this on both sides of the Atlantic now.

  7. acorn
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    You might want to investigate the “adverse possession of land”, registered or unregistered; along with “ransom strips”.

    I have recently had some involvement in a planning application that required “adverse possession” of land of unknown ownership. The fact was that there had been no possession of said land in question, for the required 10 or 12 years; which could be proved by witnesses in any Court.

    This fact was ignored by the local planning authority and the Appeal Inspectorate. The planning authority, after intervention of the Inspectorate, approved a planning application that turned an isolated back garden plot, with keyhole sized intrusive access, into another street, into a £125,000 windfall gain.

    The land planning process in England is a joke. There needs to be a Public Enquiry into how you get rich from this system, particularly at local government level.

  8. Edward2
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    This has been a worsening problem in the Midlands with many invasions this year by aggressive caravan owners travelling in convoys who smash their way onto sports fields, public parks, private open land and school playing fields.
    Often they leave large mounds of rubbish and rubble before moving off a few days later, after being served eviction notices.
    After one eviction on council owned sports grounds near me they found broken glass scattered and a clean up cost of nearly £10,000 for all the dumped rubbish.
    The Republic of Ireland has a law which concerns criminal trespass and this seems to have stopped most of this anti social behaviour.
    We need more official stopping places but ones local councils have provided near me, have been taken over by one or two permanent families who act negatively towards any visiting traveller caravans arriving.
    PS
    On a similar topic
    Laws on squatting needs to be increased in scope from just residential to include commercial premises.

    • Richard
      Posted September 8, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

      Key point: “The Republic of Ireland has a law which concerns criminal trespass and this seems to have stopped most of this anti social behaviour.”

      Why can’t the UK simply copy this proven statute from our Irish cousins?

      A way really must be found for caravan owners travelling in convoys to contribute more to the roads, schools, hospitals, rubbish disposal etc and all the other ‘free’ services that they use.

  9. Pete Else
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Why do we need politicians to make more regulations? Illegal occupation is already a common law crime as it is theft of property and does harm to the owner. Enforce the common law and every single statute and Act is superfluous as are bureaucrats and politicians- which is why it is never mentioned of course.

  10. Adam
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Proof of ownership & the owner’s authority should be adequate for police to be poised for action.

  11. Stred
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone expect the PC PC s to do anything about this?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2018 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

      Not me, they do not do anything of any value about loads of other crimes either. Just issue a crime number and often no even that.

  12. Sobstory
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    What is the point in having over 600 in the commons and another 800 in the Lords if they cannot bring in the right amount of laws with legal force so as to correct matters like this in a timely manner..jeez it’s not rocket science

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      Many in politics are actually rather keen to encouraging these squatting actions. They despise people who own land.

  13. Steve
    Posted September 7, 2018 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    JR

    “At issue is what should the police have to establish before moving against illegal
    occupation?”

    Simple really: whether or not an offence has been committed, requiring the primary opinion of a police officer.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted September 8, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      Always easier to do nothing so they generally opt to do that.

  14. gpmgroup
    Posted September 8, 2018 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    This is a matter in which any changes should be VERY carefully thought through, in many respects it may be better to leave things as they are and instead concentrate on dealing with any criminal behaviour that occurs in an identical way to as it would be treated in other circumstances. This would only necessitate a change of approach rather than any additional legislation and would solve the majority of the injustices people feel are currently occurring.

    • Edward2
      Posted September 9, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      The current laws are not working.

      Police need eviction orders or say it is private land and therefore a civil matter.
      All this takes many days by which time the damage is done.
      We need the same laws as in the Republic of Ireland where they have a law of criminal tresspass.

      • gpmgroup
        Posted September 10, 2018 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        There are already plenty of existing laws but people just want new laws to push the problem somewhere else rather than deal with the core criminality.

  15. sm
    Posted September 8, 2018 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    If a police officer saw me, jemmy in hand and swag bag over my shoulder, breaking and entering someone’s house, he has the power to arrest me.

    If a group of travellers break down a barrier and park their caravans on someone’s land without permission, the landowner has to get a court order to evict them.

    Why is there a difference, and what is it?

  16. Williams
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 provides powers to the police and local authorities to take necessary action in most unauthorised encampment situations. It could be improved by providing a far greater emphasis on reducing the disruption to local law abiding residents and businesses.
    The police, in particular, over recent years, have failed to act upon the powers provided.
    In fact, the vast majority of senior police officers and police officers in general do not understand the legislation!

    The focus on the diversity and discrimination issues relating to the traveller and gipsy communities provided, yet another, piece of wishy washy legislation. Nonetheless,
    trespass is trespass and the law is the law and simply needs to be enforced.

  17. Chris
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The article appears to primarily relate to the illegal occupation ofby groups of travellers. There is a serious problem with unauthorised parking of vehicles on private land where the current laws are clearly inadequate. The right to clamp or tow from private land has was withdrawn, with the only remaining sanction the issue of private parking notices. Police and councils will not be interested. Most private parking operators will send out numerous demands but are unwilling to go as far as a CCJ. Unfortunately many people know this and just ignore any parking signs and parking notices. The withdrawal of the right to clamp or tow, while well meaning was not properly thought out.

  18. ferdinand
    Posted September 9, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    People learn from the disciplining of others. It would not take many cases of prompt removal of trespassers with some heavy penalty such as confiscation of vehicles pending payment of a fee, to reduce the numbers considerably. Up till now the police and councils have been slow and that must stop.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page