Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus

Everyone has rights.

This includes Gypsies and Travellers and also people who own land occupied by unauthorised encampments and those who live close to one.

Gypsies and Travellers are protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998, along with all ethnic groups with a particular culture, language or values.

Below are the questions Portsmouth City Council is most often asked on this subject.

Their way of life means that they travel the country, staying for various periods of time in different locations in order to earn a living. This has been their way of life for many generations

No. If they are camped on council land, we can evict them. If they are on private land, it is usually the landowner’s responsibility. The Government has advised that when Gypsies and Travellers are not causing a problem, the site may be tolerated.     

Firstly, they can talk to them and see if a leaving date can be agreed.  The next stage is to take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998, to obtain a Court Order for their eviction. There must be a minimum of 2 clear days between the service of documents and the Court hearing.

Unless they have already obtained planning permission for a caravan site or they are a farmer and the Gypsies and Travellers are helping them (with fruit picking, etc.), then they could be in breach of the Planning Acts and Acts dealing with the licensing of caravan sites.

If the landowner is in breach of any planning or license requirements, then we will take proceedings against the landowner to require removal of the unauthorised encampment.

If they are causing problems, they will be moved as soon as possible and reasonable. We will consider each case on its merits. In all cases, the site is visited and every effort made to make sure that they keep the site tidy and do not cause public health problems. This sometimes means that refuse collection facilities may be provided for this purpose

No. We must:

  • Show they are on land without consent.
  • Make enquiries regarding the general health, welfare and children’s education.
  • Ensure the Human Rights Act 1998 is fully complied with.
  • Follow a set procedure in terms of providing ownership of land, details of the illegal encampment that will enable them to successfully obtain the necessary authority from the Court to order them to leave the site.

This will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case. We will need to take into account of the issues outlined above, as well as how soon they can obtain a Court hearing date.

Yes. If there is an unavoidable reason for them to stay on site or if the Court believes that we have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the group. We must try to find out this information before going to Court.

They will visit all sites reported to them. In certain circumstances (for example, where the Gypsies and Travellers have six or more vehicles), officers may use their powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These powers will only be used in situations of serious crime or public disorder that are not capable of being addressed by normal criminal legislation and in which the illegal occupation of the land is the relevant factor. 

For more information, contact Police Control (non-emergency): 0845 045 4545

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