Call for new approach to tackle illegal camps

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RURAL landowners have called for a new offence of criminal trespass for those who enter and occupy private land for residential purposes without consent.

The CLA – the membership organisation for owners of land, property and businesses in rural England and Wales – told a government review looking at illegal traveller sites that the law in England and Wales should be changed to make it an offence to set up unauthorised residential developments and encampments in the countryside.

The CLA said the police and local authorities are often unwilling to assist when camps are on private land and do not use current enforcement powers effectively to remove illegal camps.

CLA South East regional director Robin Edwards said: ‘Existing powers for removal are not used frequently enough or effectively on private land to ensure swift removal. To tackle the problem, it is vital to make the law simpler and easier to enforce.

‘This can be done by making it a criminal offence to set up an unauthorised residential camp. This would act as a deterrent.’