Illegal encampments on Council land
You can report caravans or other vehicles pulling onto a Council owned site such as a park or car park.
You should contact us immediately by calling the Contact Centre on 0208 770 5000.
What you'll need to tell us:
- the name of the park or road where the caravans are parking
- the number of caravans and other vehicles and
- the registration numbers of vehicles (if possible)
Do not approach or confront those involved. Just let us know what you have seen.
Contacting us outside normal office hours
Our Security desk will take your call. They will pass the information to the Police and Council officers. They will respond when they are on duty.
What action the Police will take
The Police will attend the location as soon as officers are available. They will find out:
- the number of caravans and vehicles present, and
- the names of those involved
The Police will investigate any criminal offences that have been committed, such as:
- gaining access to the space and
- any criminal activity currently in progress
This information is then used to assess if any police powers should be used to move the group on immediately from the location.
Trespass is not a criminal offence and usually the Police are unable to:
- take immediate enforcement action or
- make those involved move on
What the Council will do
If the Police cannot use their powers to move the group on, we will start the process to arrange removal. This process usually takes between 2 and 5 working days. We have a number of legal requirements to fulfil before we can move people on. These checks ensure families’ health and welfare needs are assessed as required by law and to protect the Council should issues arise during the process.
After these checks, we can make a decision about:
- whether the people should remain on site, while further welfare arrangements are made, or
- if they can be directed to leave
If it is appropriate to move the people on, our Legal Services will follow the legal processes to serve notice on those involved. This includes specifying the time that those present must leave the site.
If the people don't move on as directed
If those encamped on the site don't move on by the time and date stated in the legal notice, we will instruct bailiffs to enforce the notice. They will use any reasonable means to do so including towing vehicles from the site onto the public highway if necessary. The Police will also attend to prevent a breach of the peace and ensure that the bailiffs are able to carry out the Council’s instructions.
Taking action if the law is broken
The Safer Parks Team regularly visits parks throughout the year and follows up on any reported illegal activity. Anyone found committing crime is challenged and prosecuted. All people involved are treated fairly and within the legal processes available. Police action will be based on criminal proof and needs to be beyond reasonable doubt.
To take enforcement action for any crime by any person the Police need to have reliable witnesses to the criminal activity. If you see any illegal activity please let the Police know you are willing to make a statement and attend court to enable them to take action.
This is particularly important in dealing with fly-tipping on Council land.
If you see anyone fly-tipping, please inform the Police or the Council immediately. Try to note the registration of any vehicles involved.
The Police can take action if fly-tipping is in progress as this is a criminal activity. If fly-tipping is already on site the Council will arrange investigation of the material and try to identify the source. The Council will arrange to clear away any fly-tipping as soon as practically possible.
After the encampment has moved on
We will arrange to clear away rubbish and other remains from site as soon as those encamped have left. Depending on the type and amount of material, this may take a few hours, or several days to complete.
Stopping illegal encampments
To make illegal access more difficult on many vulnerable sites, the Council has invested in:
- grass bunds
- vehicle height barriers
- stronger gates and barriers, and
- shrouded locks
We have more than 420 hectares of open space, numerous car parks and miles of highway and public rights of way in the borough. This makes it very difficult to secure all access points, especially where those trying to gain access are prepared to cause criminal damage to force entry.
To discourage encampments and fly tipping, we will respond promptly and robustly within the law to ensure that unauthorised encampments and flytipping are quickly dealt with. Note that on 10th November 2020 the Injunction Order dated 7th November 2018 was discharged and is no longer in force.
Find out what action the Council is taking
You can find out how we are dealing with an unlawful encampments on our website.
If you don't have internet access, you can call us on 0208 770 5000.
Our contact centre staff will be able to answer most enquiries including giving an indication of when encampments are likely to be moved on.
Unfortunately service officers cannot respond to individual enquiries personally due to the volume of calls and because their focus will be on following the process set out above. They are focusing on ensuring illegal encampments are dealt with fairly and promptly to minimise distress and inconvenience for all.