17th Sep, 2019

Powers to crack down on unauthorised traveller encampments welcomed

Felix Nobes 19th Feb, 2019

SOLIHULL MP Julian Knight has welcomed new measures to help local authorities crack down on unauthorised traveller encampments.

Powers have been granted to councils and police forces to combat the issue which has plagued Solihull over the years.

It will now be easier for authorities to intervene against unauthorised encampments and gives council’s new legal tools to help protect vulnerable open spaces, Mr Knight says.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson also welcomed the changes, after spearheading a long-standing campaign.

The plans could allow police to direct trespassers to suitable authorised sites in neighbouring local authority areas, he says.

Currently police only have the power to direct trespassers to sites within the same local authority area.

The response also promises to increase the time in which trespassers moved on from land are unable to return – from three months to a year.

This change provides greater protection to land which is repeatedly targeted by the same group of trespassers, the PCC says.

Mr Knight also says the plans could see a reduction in the number of vehicles needed to be involved in an unlawful camp before police can act – from six to two.

Mr Knight said: “Every summer residents of Solihull see our parks and other vulnerable sites taken over by unauthorised campsites.

“Not only do they deprive our community of these cherished green spaces, but it also leads to huge disruption, as well as anti-social and even criminal behaviour.

“I will continue to push for Solihull Council and West Midlands Police to receive the new tools they need to take swift, effective action against offenders.”

Mr Jamieson said: “This is a victory for the West Midlands. The current system is failing everyone and change is long overdue.

“Many of the recommendations we made in 2017 and 2018 have been taken on board, including the ability for police to direct unauthorised encampments to transit sites across local council boundaries and tougher powers to stop repeat trespass on business premises.

“I now urge the government to enact these proposals as soon as possible and to ensure that local councils have the necessary funding to manage this issue.”

The government’s Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government proposed the reforms early this month and the home secretary will consider whether to implement them.

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