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Gov.uk consultation - "Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments"

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haydnw2

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The British Mountaineering Council have just highlighted in their newsletter a government consultation entitled "Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments". The BMC states "There are concerns that an unintended consequence of this consultation could be to criminalise trespass and in particular, wild van camping and wild camping. The BMC is opposed to any potential legislation that seeks to do this and any regulations that may affect the freedom to access our crags, mountains and wider countryside."

The consultation itself states:
We would like to consult on measures to;
• Criminalise the act of trespassing when setting up an unauthorised encampment in England and Wales.

We would also like to consult on the following alternative approach to this issue:
- Amending section 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to permit the police to direct trespassers to suitable authorised sites located in neighbouring local authority areas.
- Amending sections 61 and 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to increase the period of time in which trespassers directed from land would be unable to return from 3 months to 12 months.
- Amending section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to lower the number of vehicles needing to be involved in an unauthorised encampment before police powers can be exercised from six to two or more vehicles.
- Amending section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to enable the police to remove trespassers from land that forms part of the highway.
Two or more vehicles doesn't seem like very many, but having bought our first van a week ago I'm not particularly au fait with legislation around stopping in laybys etc. Has this issue been raised in these parts already? Or does everyone have faith that this will only be applied to more long-term setups rather than an informal overnight stop in a camper?

The gov.uk web page is here:

And the full consultation document is here:
 
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Lightning

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The proposed law applies however long you are there for. There is no time limit. It will make stopping anywhere but a campsite for any period of time a criminal offence. Even if you park alone, if somebody else turns up in the night, you will be commiting a crime.
It could be enforced to stop wildcamping anywhere anybody chooses, be that long term, one night, gypsy, traveller, van dweller or a holidaymaker at the sea side.
Vested interests such as campsites will want the law enforced near them.
One aspect of the consultation is a question allow immediate confiscation of vehicles without any prior warning, in addition to a criminal record.
I’m glad the BMC are on the case!
 
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haydnw2

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Erm.... sounds quite drastic! Does anyone know if any camping and caravanning bodies are taking a view on this and making representations to government as part of the consultation, or do they all take the view that it'll drive more business onto sites and is therefore a good thing?
 
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Erm.... sounds quite drastic! Does anyone know if any camping and caravanning bodies are taking a view on this and making representations to government as part of the consultation, or do they all take the view that it'll drive more business onto sites and is therefore a good thing?
It only affects wild camping, so campsite business will not object to it.
It is more likely that homeless charities and outdoor organisations will lobby against it, as it also applies to tents or any dwelling anywhere but a campsite for any period of time.
 
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Will two HGV's overnight on a lay-by constitute an encampment?
Yes, according to the law as it’s proposed. It could be used to force HGVs into truck stops if they choose to enforce it.
 
rod_vw

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Yes, according to the law as it’s proposed. It could be used to force HGVs into truck stops if they choose to enforce it.
And waive the driver's rules whilst he / she drives to a truck stop, I doubt it! Truck stops are very few and far between in my area.
 
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And waive the driver's rules whilst he / she drives to a truck stop, I doubt it! Truck stops are very few and far between in my area.
It would still be illegal regardless of wether you doubt it or not.
A truck driver could try and use the mandatory break laws as a defence, he may or may not win the case.
 
soulstyledevon

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This cracks me up...
They don’t have enough Police to control violent crime in most areas, along with burglary, people trafficking and other hideous crimes.
Pretty sure John Doe camping in his van down some country lane will be right down on police priority lists
 
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This cracks me up...
They don’t have enough Police to control violent crime in most areas, along with burglary, people trafficking and other hideous crimes.
Pretty sure John Doe camping in his can down some country lane will be right down on police priority lists
Agreed. If they choose to enforce it for any reason they can. Anyone can phone up and report a crime. You could get a criminal record, and your van confiscated if choose to risk it. Low probability, high consequence.
 
Anthony1

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The proposed law applies however long you are there for. There is no time limit. It will make stopping anywhere but a campsite for any period of time a criminal offence. Even if you park alone, if somebody else turns up in the night, you will be commiting a crime.
It could be enforced to stop wildcamping anywhere anybody chooses, be that long term, one night, gypsy, traveller, van dweller or a holidaymaker at the sea side.
Vested interests such as campsites will want the law enforced near them.
One aspect of the consultation is a question allow immediate confiscation of vehicles without any prior warning, in addition to a criminal record.
I’m glad the BMC are on the case!
There is no time limit. It will make stopping anywhere but a campsite for any period of time a criminal offence.

Even during the day, in a layby, for a cup of tea?
 
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haydnw2

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The consultation questions refer to, if I remember correctly, "an intention to reside there". Seems like the definition of 'reside' would be crucial!
 
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The consultation questions refer to, if I remember correctly, "an intention to reside there". Seems like the definition of 'reside' would be crucial!
Yes. It can be interpreted however they choose. As there is no time limit, it‘s intentionally vague.
 
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haydnw2

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Naively, I'd assumed the definitions would be built in. This was perhaps foolish given that I wrestle with a lack of good legislative definitions in my day job! I replied to the consultation to say that if the proposals are not directed at particular groups of people, namely "recreational users" for want of a better phrase, then the wording should be updated to explicitly exclude them. I'm never sure how much difference such comments make, but if everyone decides it's not worth it then we eventually lose any ability to influence anything.
 
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There is no time limit. It will make stopping anywhere but a campsite for any period of time a criminal offence.

Even during the day, in a layby, for a cup of tea?
It depends upon wether you intend to reside there for any period of time or not.

Note that you don’t have to actually reside there, you just have to intend to...
 
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The problem they have is that although the whole thing is aimed at Gypsies and Travellers, they cannot make their blatant discrimination blatantly obvious by excluding everybody else.
 
Amarillo

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The consultation questions refer to, if I remember correctly, "an intention to reside there". Seems like the definition of 'reside' would be crucial!
The term reside implies some degree of permanence. An intention to move on after a day or two does not have that permanence. If the intention is to ban overnight sleeping, that is very easy to say.
 
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Lightning

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The term reside implies some degree of permanence. An intention to move on after a day or two does not have that permanence. If the intention is to ban overnight sleeping, that is very easy to say.
This is the wording they use:

Having considered the findings from that review, we would like to test the appetite to go further and broaden the existing categories of criminal trespass to cover trespassers on land who are there with the purpose of residing in their vehicle for any period, and to give the police the relevant powers to arrest offenders in situ and to seize any vehicles or other property on existing unauthorised encampments (or those in the process of being set up) immediately.
 
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