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Persona Non Grata: New police powers to deal with trespassers and unauthorised encampments

  • United Kingdom
  • Real estate dispute resolution
  • Real estate litigation - LawBite


Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 and Government News Story “New police powers to crack down on unauthorised encampments come into force"

On 28 June 2022 the Home Office announced that from that date the new police powers under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 will be in force to deal with trespassers setting up unlawful encampments on land.

Corporate occupiers, particularly those with large property portfolios are likely to have experienced issues with trespassers setting up unauthorised encampments on their land.

As well as business disruption, these incursions often result in property damage and there is then a financial liability from the inevitable clean-up operation.

Successive Governments have tried to tackle the issue with varying degrees of success; these new powers are intended to give effect to this Government’s manifesto pledge of cracking down on such encampments.

The conditions of the offence are clear - if people leave when asked to by the police or landowner, they will not risk having their vehicle seized, a fine or prison time.

Whether or not the Police will have the resource or the inclination to use these new powers, remains to be seen.

Police will now be able to ban trespassers from returning to a patch of land for a year, rather than just three months.

  • Not only do the police have greater powers where it comes to unauthorised encampments, but the definition of ‘harm’ is also broadened, so that police can take more decisive action when necessary.  Harm now includes:
    • excessive littering, noise or smell – including from bonfire smoke;
    • intimidation of verbal abuse of a local resident; and
    • damage to property on the land, or damage to the land itself
  • Police will be able to intervene where unauthorised encampments are causing environmental damage or distress to the community – not just the landowner;
  • The new criminal offence will be punishable by a prison sentence of up to 3 months, or a fine of up to £2,500, or both, and/or seizure of vehicle.