Skip to main content

Joint Committee on Human Right reports on unauthorised encampments clauses of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

2 July 2021

  • The human rights of landowners can be impacted by unauthorised encampments, but there is a significant risk that the Bill could have a disproportionate impact on the human rights of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
  • The Government should reintroduce the statutory duty on local authorities to make adequate provision for sites for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in their area

In its third report into the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights examines Part 4 of the proposed legislation relating to the criminalisation of unauthorised encampments.

New powers in the Bill would place additional burdens on public authorities dealing with people living on unauthorised encampments. Instead, the issue could be better solved through ensuring that there are sufficient authorised encampments for traveller communities to live on.

The Committee calls on the Government to reintroduce the statutory duty on local authorities to make adequate provision for sites for traveller communities. The Government should also amend the bill so that a criminal offence is only committed where an adequate authorised site had been made available by the local authority.

The Committee calls on the Government to amend the Bill so that a caravan cannot be seized if it is a person’s principal home and they would have nowhere else to live.

The Committee also calls on the Government to ensure the legislation is sufficiently clear for the police to enforce its provisions. Conditions within the Bill that are entirely based on potential acts and potential impacts should be removed.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP said:

“This Bill takes a major step in making it a criminal offence for Gypsy, Roma and Travellers communities to be on private land without consent. The JCHR has made a number of proposals to clarify and limit these new offences to ensure that the human rights of these communities are respected at the same time as landowners have their property rights protected.”

Image: Pixabay