Dealing with travellers in car parks

Finding that travellers have settled in your public or private car park can have a serious impact on your company and surrounding businesses. Being unable to operate your car parking facility can have a negative financial impact on local businesses, especially in shopping centres and districts, as customers and car park users are reluctant or unable to use the space.

If you have found that travellers have settled on your land, it is important you request they move on as soon as possible and gain appropriate assistance to help vacate the area to avoid causing significant damage to your business and those of others.

What to do if travellers camp in your car park

The first thing to do is to ask them to leave, It is also worth looking to see if their presence is causing a disturbance – for example, if their encampment has spread onto a right of way or highway, the local authority will need to be aware.

Sadly, due to many factors, sometimes the travellers won’t engage nor will they have a conversation about their plans. If you feel that things aren’t going well or they start causing anti-social behaviour, then you may need to consider getting Enforcement assistance

If you have been unable to move the travellers on upon after your initial request or feel unsure about the safety of asking the group to leave, then you should seek assistance from a certificated enforcement officers. With their assistance, your land can be recovered quickly and legally, allowing customers and other car park users to begin using the space again, without protracted court proceedings.

A certificated enforcement officer will be able to assess the situation and determine how best to remove the  travellers on safely and quickly or whether a police presence is required to assist with the eviction.

What are the legal options?

There are a few options under Civil Procedure Rules that can make it possible to remove travellers from car parks and other private lands.

COMMON LAW -also known as HALSBURY LAW

This is the common law right of a landowner and means you can instruct a Enforcement Officers to take possession of the land. There is no need for a Court Order, the law advocates that the Officers, can use reasonable force to remove the trespassers. However, it is always best practice to seek a peaceful solution with the travellers.

Should the travellers return there is no penalty for them should they return once the enforcement has been carried out. The action should be taken by a Certified Enforcement Agent, as they understand the Law, and will be able to advise the police on these matters, as both Civil & Criminal Laws are different sides of the same coin.

Part 55 Civil Procedures Rules (County Court)

Utilising this action, whilst you do not require the services of a law firm. If you are confident and understand the procedure then you are able to issue and represent yourself at Court. However we would highly recommend you employ the services of a firm of solicitors. There will be legal fees incurred. The process can take up to two weeks to complete.

The eviction needs to be enforced by either County Court bailiffs or transferred to the High Court for Enforcement. Our High Court Enforcement Officers can then attend and carry out the eviction. There is no penalty if the travellers return to the site, although if it is the same travellers return then you can apply for a restitution Warrant to evict the travellers, this can normally be done within 24 hrs of arrival of the travellers.

Part 55 Civil Procedures Rules Emergency High Court Order.

This may be a slightly quicker method, taking just 3-4 days. You will need a solicitor and barrister for the High Court. Also, there eviction needs to fit a very specific set of circumstances and you will need to have collected evidence to back up what you are saying.

The eviction is carried out by High Court Enforcement Officers. There is no penalty if the travellers return to the site, again a Restitution warrant can be applied for.

Section 77-78 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

Section 77 can only be used by the local authority. There are many reasons for a local authority to employ Section 77.  However, in normal circumstances the land will either be owned or operated by the local authority.

This kind of eviction is carried out by Certified Enforcement There are also criminal sanctions that can be imposed if they return to the location within 3 months, such as seizing the vehicles.

Section 61-62 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

This section can only be used by the police to remove travellers from any land apart from a highway. There need to be at least two people, or six or more caravans that require eviction for the police to use this law and they need to be able to identify the people and/or their vehicles from the land. There must be other criteria for such as Anti-Social behaviour. There is no need for a Court Order in this matter, however the request must come from an Inspector or higher.

Will the police get involved?

If you report that travellers have taken up residence in your car park, they may visit the site, but the offence is a Civil TORT one, not a criminal one. This is why most of the regulations used to remove them come under Civil Procedure Rules, rather than criminal ones.

If however, there is evidence of criminal activity, then the police may become more involved. Under the the relevant section of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, they can move travellers off the land if their behaviour contravenes the act, as we have discussed.

There are situations where the police may also act if there are six or more vehicles. These powers come under the same act and will only be used where there is evidence of serious criminal activity or of public disorder that cannot be addressed under normal legislation.

Why you shouldn’t try eviction yourself

While you have the right to evict travellers from your car park, it is unwise to do this, we have the experience and the expertise to deal in these matters. Under the law, landowners can use ‘no more force that is reasonably necessary’ following instructions to leave the land. If there has been force or violence used to access the area, such as breaking down security barriers, there is no requirement to request that they leave prior to carrying out an eviction. This is known as Aggravated Trespass.

If the landowner does use too much force then it becomes a criminal matter. If it is judged to be excessive, then the landowner themselves could face a claim. This is why it is always recommended to use an expert in the area such as a Certificated Enforcement Officer. Certificated Enforcement Officers understand the law, have the required skill set to be able to discuss the situation and act appropriately.

Measures to prevent reoccupation

Land Owners will need to consider the best way to prevent the land from being reoccupied. In some cases, this will involve steps such as embankments around a site, earth bunds or even height restrictions. However, with car parks, this can be trickier as by their nature they are open to the public.

Quick response

Whether it is operating under Common Law, Section 77 of the Local Authorities Act, or CPR 55. One of our fully trained, insured team of enforcement officers, at Able Enforcements can evict travellers legally without fuss. We often act with one our teams being on site the same day.

Able Enforcements understand the complex issue of traveller evictions, we  have been assisting businesses throughout the UK to evict travellers from car parks and secure land for over 26 years. If you have recently discovered that your car park is being occupied, get in touch to find out how Able Enforcements can help. Speak to a member of our team by calling 0845 370 7401.

 

Find out about how Able Enforcements helped an insurance broker move a number of travellers from their car park.

You can find more information and tips about Traveller removal by clicking on the ‘Removing travellers: The complete guide‘.

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