Our criminal law team has noticed an increase in the number of unauthorised encampments in the Thames Valley over the last few weeks. We regularly assist and advise clients who have been impacted by this, in order to find the most efficient way to move on any encampments and then prepare a strategy moving forward to reduce the chances of them returning.
Nothing can be more distressing than suddenly finding, often overnight, that an unauthorised encampment has appeared and will cause a significant disruption to you, your business or local community. It may be that your business cannot now function perhaps because a service road is blocked and their arrival is deterring your clients from attending your business. It may be that the encampment is on a playing field with all the associated impact on community sports. The ways that these situations can affect people and businesses are wide and varied, but the consequences can be serious and time is often of the essence.
For many the first port of call is the police. However, the problem is that the police may say that there is nothing they can do and it is a civil matter, which involves obtaining a court order. Not only does this take time, but it issimply not the right advice. The police have a great deal of power to serve notice upon, and move on encampments, when a threshold of disturbance and impact is reached. For this reason, when we are instructed to assist, we will often undertake a site visit and then prepare the appropriate representations to the police as to why they need to utilise the powers available.
This can also involve escalating the matter within the police if the initial response is a resistance to act. As far as the police are concerned, encampments are time consuming against a background of limited police resources, but nonetheless, the powers are available and the critical factor is to draw up a clear strategy at an early stage and to hold the police to account where appropriate.
Our advice is simple. Should this situation be relevant to you, please contact us without delay. It is possible for the police, after hearing representations which we can assist with, to act very quickly.