Home Secretary, Priti Patel has introduced new legislation that will make it a criminal offence to intentionally set up a camp and trespass on private land.
The legislation will give police power to fine those who intentionally break the law up to £2,500 and include the possibility of a three-month prison sentence.
Currently landowners face legal battles and court costs to evict travellers from their sites because trespass remains a civil offence.
Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner and Conservative PCC Candidate, Matthew Barber has welcomed the plans:
"I have lobbied the Home Office on the issue of illegal encampments for many months. It is a real concern for residents across Thames Valley. I have spoken to the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister at length and I am pleased to see these proposals being presented to Parliament.
“This will be similar to legislation introduced in Republic of Ireland in 2002 and will fulfil one of the Conservatives' manifesto commitments. I am fully behind the government's strong action.” he added.
The Bill will authorise the police to take enforcement action against two illegally parked vehicles. The current number is six. The police would also be able to take action to prevent any damage, disruption or distress to landowners.
The law will allow police enforcement against anyone over 18 who fails to vacate a private property when asked to do so by the landowner or police. Those found to be illegally occupying the property will also be barred from returning for at least twelve months.
Despite the pandemic there were over 750 illegal encampments reported last year in Thames Valley alone.
PCC Candidate Matthew Barber commented:
"Law-abiding residents and businesses in Bucks, Berks & Oxon have the right to peaceful enjoyment and protection of their property. This is absolutely the right thing for the government to do.
"If elected as Thames Valley's next Police and Crime Commissioner, I will fully support our police force and local authorities to clampdown on illegal encampments. I will also do everything possible to work closely with local authorities transit sites and monitor the permanent pitches. I make no apology that under my leadership, I will never turn a blind eye to illegal trespass on private property.”