Unlawful encampments

Complete our online form below and we will visit the site to check:

  • Tidiness
  • Disruption for local residents and businesses
  • Obstructions of highways or public rights of way
  • Welfare issues
  • Damage to public property

We take all the necessary legal steps to bring the encampments to an end while respecting the civil rights of the travellers themselves. Our duties are carried out in line with the Human Rights Act and Race Relations Act.

Unauthorised encampments on private land are the responsibility of the land owner.

Report an unauthorised Gypsy or Travellers site
What happens when Gypsies and Travellers visit the area?

Generally Gypsies and Travellers like to keep to themselves but in some situations, they may stop closer to residential areas.

We receive information when Gypsies and Travellers are in the area and work with Sussex Police and the Gypsies/Travellers themselves, to minimize disruption to residents during such a visit.

Where cases of unauthorised camping are identified, each case is taken on its own merit. We act in line with the Human Rights Act and Race Relations Act.

Can the council remove Travellers from council land immediately?

We can’t remove unauthorised encampments from council land immediately. We comply with national legislation and guidelines by:

  • Showing that the Gypsies/Travellers are on the land without consent 
  • Making enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the group and children's education 
  • Ensuring that the Human Rights Act has been fully complied with 
  • Following a set procedure which involves proving ownership of the land, giving details of the illegal encampment, serving notices and summonses in order to successfully obtain a court order to evict the travellers from the site   

This work is done by West Sussex County Council on our behalf. Unauthorised encampments on Crawley Borough Council land has to be dealt with as a civil matter. The police will only take action if serious criminal activity, public disorder or disruption to the local community takes place.

How long will it take for the Travellers to be removed?

This will depend on the circumstances of each individual case. We have to take account all of the above issues as well as how soon we can obtain a County Court hearing date. 

Can the court refuse to grant the council an order to move Travellers on?

Yes, if there is an unavoidable reason for the Travellers to stay on the site or if the court believes that we have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the Travellers. 

If Travellers camp on private land, what can the landowner do?

If Travellers are on private land, it is the landowner's responsibility to take the necessary action to evict them.

The landowner can attempt to agree a leaving date with the Travellers or take proceedings in the County Court to obtain a Court Order for their eviction.

If the landowner fails to take appropriate action the council may take proceedings against the landowner to remove the illegal encampments.

Are Travellers entitled to assistance if they are homeless?

Like every person in Crawley, Travellers are entitled to apply for housing assistance from us. If the criteria laid out in the Housing Act are met, the council must provide temporary accommodation. The way in which the temporary accommodation is provided is assessed for each case. 

What can the Police do?

The Police will visit all sites reported to them but trespassing is a civil matter and not a criminal offence. Prevention of trespassing and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner and not the Police.

In certain circumstances officers may use powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to move Travellers on. These powers will usually only be used in situations of more serious criminality or where there is the risk of public disorder.