Finding an encampment of travellers on your site can be a real problem. As a business and as a private landowner you can face a lot of damage even before you start attempting to remove them, and when you do start, you need to make sure you go about it the right way. Travellers on your land are classed as unauthorised trespassers, and they can cause physical damage to your property as well as causing you mental stress and anguish in dealing with it. In a public relations sense, their presence can also do a lot of commercial damage to your business.
So you need to remove the travellers from your property, but how do you go about it? Of course you could find that the travellers are peaceful and harmless, and if there are only a small number and you feel it is not causing you or your business any harm then there is no reason why you can’t conduct a cordial and non-confrontational relationship. However, this is not a common resolution and in most cases you will have to take steps to resolve the situation, so here are five bits of advice.
Inform the police
You should do this immediately upon discovering the travellers’ presence, but the police can’t usually resolve the problem for you. Trespass on private land is classed as a civil matter not a criminal one, so it remains the responsibility of the landowner to remove the problem. However you should call the police to report an unauthorised encampment and they can then observe the process of removal. The police can only intervene to remove the travellers if there is a serious act of anti-social behaviour, such as causing criminal damage or threatening or abusive language, or if the encampment increases to six or more vehicles. You should also note that you should not contact the local council, as they can only intervene if the encampment is on council land.
Don’t deal with it yourself
As the encampment is on your private property, as the land owner you have the right to take action, however you need to follow the correct legal processes. Using excessive force yourself and effectively taking the law into your own hands, could lead to physical damage to yourself and your property, and therefore set you back in the legal process. Your intervention could hand legal power to the trespassers if you have not followed the correct procedure.
Know the law
There are various legal processes you could take, and these vary in terms of time, cost and likelihood of success. These include:
- Common law
- County court route
- CPR 55
- High court writ
The quickest and simplest method of removal is to follow the common law route, this doesn’t require lengthy and costly court action and can be resolved in much less time, often in less than 24 hours.
Take action via common law process
Under common law you should first approach the travellers in a non-hostile way and attempt to negotiate their removal peacefully. If this is not successful you can initiate the process by using a Certified Enforcement Officer – new name for bailiffs – who will represent the landowner and issue a formal notice to the travellers asking them to leave the premises. The notice will give them adequate time to vacate the land, which can be from one hour up to 24 hours. If they have not left after this period, the land owner is entitled to use “reasonable force” to take the matter further.
Employ a qualified K9 dog handler
Using the services of an experienced, qualified and licenced dog handler to assist in removing the travellers, will help resolve the situation in your favour because, this service:
- Follows the legal process cautiously and diligently
- Uses a dog and handler who are trained to remain calm in the face of provocation and hostility
- Ensures the right commands are communicated clearly and negotiations and demands are effectively delivered
- Only react where absolutely necessary and in the correct manner.
A K9 dog handler will work with you to safely and effectively remove the travellers from your site, while also assisting in taking evidence and photos of damage left, or threats and abuse, while this is ongoing. Of course, the police can also be at hand to react where required, should the removal escalate to include criminal activity.
If you require more information on the traveller removal process and/or the services of a qualified K9 dog handler, you can contact React K9 today.