Frustrated Hayling resident demand Britain top chief inspector steps in to deal with illegal traveller encampment

DISGRUNTLED residents sick of travellers pitching up in parks have called on Britain’s top chief inspector to force police to use new powers to move on illegal encampments.

By Tom Cotterill
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 3:28 pm

Frustrated Richard Coates has written to Andrew Cooke, chief inspector of constabulary, pleading for the senior figure to step in and turf off travellers illegally camped at Mengham Park, Hayling Island.

As previously reported, about 10 vehicles broke into the grounds on Thursday, with residents allegedly seeing travellers moving a defensive perimeter boulder out of the way to gain access.

The group has been at the site for almost a week, with locals claiming to have seen them defecating in the park and causing anti-social behaviour.

HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Chief Fire & Rescue Inspector Andy Cooke at Globe House in London. Photo: PA

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Havant Borough Council yesterday launched a court bid to remove the illegal encampment but travellers are still at the site.

Now, Mr Coates has called on Mr Cooke – who scrutinises the effectiveness and efficiency of police forces and fire services – to get Hampshire police to use new legal powers to move on the group.

Under the newly beefed-up Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, trespassers who set up camp illegally on other people’s land or in local communities was made a criminal offence in June - with those caught facing up to three months in prison.

Travellers set up the illegal camp on Thursday after moving a defensive boulder, pictured front. Photo: Richard Coates

But Mr Coates warned the chief inspector of constabulary that the new powers were ‘not being implemented in a continuing softly softly approach’ by Hampshire Chief Constable, Oliva Pinkney.

Speaking to The News, Mr Coates said: ‘Residents are up in arms. This is about the third time in two years they have been there. They have just all had enough.

‘There’s a lack of enforcement on it…They need to clampdown on it. That’s what this police and crime bill. It’s incredibly frustrating.’

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Travellers set up the illegal camp on Thursday after moving a defensive boulder, pictured front. Photo: Richard Coates

Under the new legal guidance, police can act under the broadened powers given to them through the upgraded legislation if unauthorised encampments meet certain criteria.

Among these includes excessive littering, noise of smell, if a residents is verbally abused or intimidated - or fears leaving their house to avoid walking past the encampment - or if local communities are prevented from accessing sports fields, parks or car parks.

The News has approached Hampshire police for comment about the illegal camp in Hayling Island.