I have a proven track record in dealing with Travellers, most notably in 2011 under the media spotlight at the Dale Farm site in Essex on behalf of Basildon Council - undertaken under planning legislation.
Apart from the powers available only to the police I can both advise and assist in dealing with trespassers on land making use of the following remedies:
Use of the police if certain criterion is met and the police are willing to use the power available to them under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
In addition to certain other requirements there has to have been a request by the landowner for the trespassers to leave and the police can then serve a Notice directing the trespassers to leave within a reasonable time. If they fail to leave the police are empowered to arrest and seize vehicles and any return within three months is an offence.
The police are not always willing to use this power leaving the landowner to resort to alternative methods although the advantage of this procedure is that it is usually swift and also free of charge.
Use of the civil law through the County or High Courts. This route requires application to the Court for an Order for Possession which involves the service of certain legal paperwork on the trespassers and a specific procedure to be followed to obtain the Order as any defect in the procedure may result in it not being granted.
A solicitor who specializes in property matters would know how to present the application. On obtaining the Order for Possession which may take up to a week the Court bailiff is responsible for its execution which is likely to incur significant further delay.
This may be overcome by “transfer up” of the Order to the High Court (if the original application is not made in the High Court) which can be done immediately after the Order is granted and then executed virtually straight away by a High Court Enforcement Officer. The same procedure may also be used for dealing with trespassers or squatters illegally occupying buildings. The transfer up process is straightforward and requires only a £60 fee to the Court to achieve it.
A Plaintiff (landowner or representative) must be present at the time the repossession takes place and they must make the arrangements for securing the land. Under certain circumstances the police are required to assist if there is any resistance or obstruction. Apart from the additional cost of dealing with the matter through the Courts, the longer any trespassers remain the greater the likelihood of damage and post eviction clear up costs are likely to be more.
Trespassers will often vacate on the day the Court Order is granted in the knowledge that they are about to be evicted.
Section 77 & 78 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 is only available to Local Authorities where the occupied land belongs to them. As with the above the procedure can be delayed by the requirements that the Authority has to fulfill in order to present their case to the Magistrates.