Can Police Remove Trespassers in the UK?

Navigating the challenges of managing trespassers on your property requires a solid understanding of UK law.

So, can police remove trespassers? This guide aims to provide property owners with detailed insights into what constitutes trespass, when it becomes a legal matter, and the various actions that can be taken to address such situations under UK law, particularly under the recent Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

What Counts as Trespass?

Trespass in the UK is defined as the act of entering or using someone else’s property without permission. This can include physically walking on someone’s land, erecting structures, or parking vehicles on the land without the owner’s consent.

Trespass can range from minor infringements, such as cutting through a private lane, to more severe forms where trespassers cause damage to the property or use the property for their own purposes.

When Trespass is a Civil Matter

In most instances, trespass is treated as a civil matter, not a criminal offence. This means the property owner is responsible for taking legal action to remove trespassers or seek damages.

Civil trespass does not imply any criminal intent; it simply acknowledges unauthorised entry. Property owners can issue a written notice requiring trespassers to leave and can escalate the matter to the High Court if the trespass continues.

In such cases, engaging a solicitor for legal advice is often necessary to ensure the proper legal process is followed.

When Trespass Becomes a Crime

Trespass escalates to a criminal offence under certain conditions. This includes aggravated trespass, where individuals trespass with the intent to intimidate, disrupt, or obstruct lawful activities.

Criminal trespass may also be charged if trespassers cause significant damage to land or exhibit threatening behaviour towards the property owner or lawful occupants.

Under Sections 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, police have the power to direct trespassers to leave, especially when the intruder uses the land for residential purposes without consent.

a squatting situation where police may remove trespassers

Can Police Remove Trespassers in Criminal Cases?

When dealing with a case of criminal trespass, the police first assess the situation to determine whether the trespass has indeed escalated to a criminal level. If it has, they will issue a direction to the intruders to leave under the relevant legal provisions.

If the trespassers do not comply, the police can then take further legal action, which might include making arrests or forcibly removing trespassers and their belongings from the property.

The police are also responsible for liaising with the local authority and other relevant organisations to ensure that all actions taken are lawful and proportionate to the threat or harm caused by the trespassers. This collaborative approach helps ensure that the rights and safety of all parties are considered.

The police will also engage with property owners to guide them on reducing the risk of future trespassing and what legal measures they can take independently.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act (2022)

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 significantly impacted how trespass issues are handled, enhancing police powers.

This Act specifically addresses the challenges posed by unauthorised encampments and gives police additional authority to remove vehicles and arrest individuals who refuse to comply with directives to leave. The legislation aims to safeguard property owners against the disruption and distress caused by persistent trespassers.

What Can Trespassers Be Sentenced With?

Depending on the nature and severity of the trespass, penalties can vary. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act stipulates that offences can lead to imprisonment for up to 28 days, fines, or both.

For aggravated trespass or substantial damage, the legal repercussions are more severe, potentially leading to longer terms of imprisonment and larger fines.

court sentence

If the Police Can’t Help, How Do I Deal with Trespassers?

In instances where the police cannot intervene because the trespass does not constitute a criminal offence, property owners have other recourse.

Applying for an interim possession order (IPO) is one effective measure. An IPO can be obtained quickly, usually within a few days, and requires trespassers to leave the property within 24 hours of the order being served.

If trespassers fail to comply, they commit an offence, and the police can then intervene. Additionally, owners should consider preventive measures such as fencing, security cameras, and clear signage that indicates private property to reduce the risk of trespass.

Hiring Enforcement Officers

For immediate and effective resolution, property owners can also consider hiring professional enforcement services like Able Investigations.

These officers are specially trained to handle trespass situations legally and efficiently, ensuring minimal disruption and swift enforcement of property rights.

enforcement security officers

Hiring such services can be particularly beneficial in complex situations where legal nuances may delay police action or where trespassers repeatedly ignore conventional requests to vacate. Officers can act as security on the land or assist in evicting squatters or those living in encampments on your land.

Our team are highly trained and know the legalities of trespassing situations inside and out, ensuring quick, decisive action which is compliant with the law.


Understanding the legal distinctions between civil and criminal trespass, alongside the enhanced powers granted by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, empowers property owners to tackle trespass issues effectively.

Whether through legal channels or professional enforcement, property owners in the UK have multiple strategies at their disposal to manage and remove trespassers legally and efficiently.

For those situations where the legal process seems daunting or insufficiently rapid, professional enforcement officers provide a robust solution to ensure your property rights are respected and enforced promptly and professionally.

Find out more about our team of enforcement officers or contact us today to resolve your matter.


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