Gypsy and traveller sites

Gypsy and traveller encampment

We are responsible for the management of authorised and unauthorised occupation of council-owned sites and land by gypsies and travellers.

Traveller encampments on private land

If there is an encampment on private land, the landowner is responsible for dealing with the situation as this is a civil offence. The police have no powers to prevent people from trespassing on private land unless it becomes confrontational.

In many cases, it is possible for landowners to speak directly with the travellers themselves, and negotiate a common agreement as to how long the group might stay.

Where this is not possible, a solicitor will be able to advise on the legal procedure for recovery of land through the County Court, under part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules.

When the travellers have moved on, it is the landowner's responsibility to clear any rubbish or waste from the site.

Traveller encampments on public land

Where a traveller encampment is reported on council-owned land, including parts of the highway, we aim to visit the site within the first full working day.

During this visit, a Council Officer will attempt to identify the group and ask why they are there. The officer will also collect information about the health, education and welfare of the group.

You can report an encampment on public land using the online form below.

Report a gypsy and traveller encampment

Criminal damage

If damage is caused or people have been threatened, this is a police matter.

  • If it is an emergency, dial 999
  • In all other cases, contact Wiltshire Police on 101

Legal powers

We will contact the local police so that the Senior Police Officer can make a decision about whether criminal law powers will be needed.

If the police choose not to use their powers immediately, and instead leave the landowner (private or public) to take legal action, the police will record this fact and keep their decision under constant review.

The Council Officer will then consider all the relevant evidence that has been gathered, including advice from the police and the health, welfare and education results.

Finding a resolution

If the police choose not to act immediately to end the encampment, the council may agree a leaving date with the group, which includes a period of ‘rest’ in accordance with government guidelines.

On occasion, the group may not be moved straight away due to advice received from the health, welfare or education agencies. In this case, we offer groups short-term relocation to the Gypsy and Traveller transit site at Chiseldon Firs.

Civil action

The time it takes for the removal of an encampment will vary. It will depend on the particular circumstances of the group and each case will be different.

Environmental assessment

When the group finally move on from the council land, a Council Officer will visit the area and assess if there has been any environmental impact. If any further action is necessary, they will report their findings to the relevant agencies.

Further information

If you are a gypsy or traveller and are seeking local advice on accommodation or site services, or if you are in doubt on any matter relating to gypsies, travellers and unauthorised encampments, contact us using the details below:

Housing Options
Community Safety Team
Civic Offices
Euclid Street

Telephone: 01793 445503

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