Make deliberate trespass a criminal offence and take urgent action on illegal encampments!

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We are fortunate to live in a very tolerant society, but toleration must be underpinned by shared values, respect for one another, respect for property (both public and private), consideration for the community, and an assumption that all are equal before the law and equally subject to the law. Illegal encampments blight the lives of local communities and frequently disrupt the legitimate enjoyment of local amenities by the law-abiding settled residents, as was seen recently when a group of Travellers occupied playing fields at Hannakins Farm in Billericay for over a week. We have seen this elsewhere in the Borough of Basildon and up and down the country, with clean-up costs often costing local authorities thousands of pounds. It has to stop.

It is corrosive to society when some people are seen to disrespect the law and don’t seem to be subject to the law in the same way the rest of us are. 

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) will shortly be consulting upon the effectiveness of enforcement and looking at powers available to local authorities and the police. As part of this process, we the undersigned call upon the Government to implement a new criminal offence, similar to that which currently exists in the Irish Republic, of 'deliberate trespass'. At present, under UK law trespass is a civil matter that must be dealt with through the courts - forcing landowners to go through a lengthy and expensive court process. A new law along the Irish lines will enable authorities to quickly remove those who occupy property without permission. Trespassers who refuse to move after being asked to do so by a uniformed police officer can be arrested.

People who seek to trespass quite deliberately and set up an illegal encampment should face the full severity of the law and it should be the same law that applies to everyone else.



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