Gypsy and Traveller sites

Find out what services are available for Travellers and Gypsies in the borough.

We aim to provide essential services to the Travellers and Gypsies in the borough, balancing their rights with those of anyone on whose land unauthorised camping takes place.

Gypsies and Travellers are protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

Police involvement

The police will investigate all criminal and public order offences, but trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence. Therefore the prevention of trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner.

The duty of the police is to preserve the peace and prevent crime and the police will visit all sites reported to them.

In certain circumstances (for example, where the Gypsies or Travellers have six or more vehicles with them), officers may use powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Council owned land

If Gypsies or Travellers are camped on council land, we are able to evict them.

However, the government has advised that when Gypsies and Travellers are not causing a problem, the site may be tolerated.

If the Gypsies or Travellers are causing problems, they will be moved on as soon as is possible and reasonable.

We will consider each case on its merits.

Site visits

In all cases the site will be visited by council officers and every effort is made to make sure that the Gypsies or Travellers keep the site tidy and do not cause public health problems.

This means that sometimes we provide refuse collection facilities.

Our responsibilities

Before we can remove Gypsies and Travellers from council land we must show that they are on the land without permission.

We must make enquiries about their general health and welfare, and their children’s education.

We must ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied with.

We will follow a set procedure for proving ownership of land and providing details of the illegal encampment. This will allow us to obtain the necessary authority from the court to order the Gypsies and Travellers to leave council land.

If there is an unavoidable reason for the Gypsies or Travellers to stay on the site, or it is felt that we have failed to make adequate enquiries about their general health and welfare, the court can refuse to grant an order to move Gypsies or Travellers on.

Privately owned land

Illegal encampments

If Travellers or Gypsies are camped on privately owned land, it is usually the landowner’s responsibility to move them on. 

The landowner should first talk to them to see if a leaving date can be agreed on. If a date can’t be agreed, then the landowner can apply to the county court for an eviction order. There must be a minimum of two clear days between serving documents on the encampment and the court hearing.

Breach of the planning acts

If the landowner allows the encampment to stay temporarily and does not have planning permission for a caravan site, they could be in breach of the planning acts and the acts dealing with the licensing of caravan sites.

If the landowner is in breach of any planning or licence requirements, we will start proceedings to require the removal of the illegal encampment.

You may wish to seek further advice from our Environmental Health team, which deals with illegal encampments.

Environmental Health

020 8215 3000

Unlawful encampment injunction

October 2017 final injunction

On 30 October 2017 we were granted an injunction that bans unlawful campsites from being set up as well as prohibiting fly-tipping. In total, 133 sites will be protected across Barking and Dagenham, including parks, open spaces, schools and industrial sites, all of which have experienced unlawful encampments in recent years.

The order bans 23 named defendants – and “persons unknown” – from setting up unlawful encampments anywhere within the borough, with a power of arrest attached should the order be breached. The order is not time limited, and will remain in force until further order.

Any breach of the order is a contempt of court, punishable by a term of imprisonment.

Fly-tipping has been prohibited as the borough has experienced particular problems with fly-tips accompanying a number of previous unlawful encampments.

Supporting documents

Final injunction (PDF, 429KB)

Exhibit index (PDF, 151KB)

Exhibit bundle 1 (PDF, 9.6MB)

Exhibit bundle 2 (PDF, 10.2MB)

Exhibit bundle 3 (PDF, 10.6MB)

Exhibit bundle 4 (PDF, 10.1MB)

Exhibit bundle 5 (PDF, 7.3MB)

Exhibit bundle 6 (PDF, 4.5MB)

Exhibit bundle 7 (PDF, 5.2MB)

Schedule of sites (PDF, 46kB)

Map of sites (PDF, 1.5MB)

Witness statement index (PDF, 71KB)

Witness-statement-bundle (PDF, 9.8MB)

March 2017 interim injunction

On 29 March 2017, we were granted an interim injunction to prevent illegal encampments being set up across 140 sites in Barking and Dagenham.

There will be a final hearing in the High Court in London on 30 October 2017 to determine whether we will be granted a final injunction, allowing us to continue to protect local parks and open spaces.

Supporting documents

Claim form (PDF, 731.00 KB)

Interim injunction order (PDF, 264.00 KB)

Notice of hearing (PDF, 731.00 KB)

Hard copies of evidence can be obtained from Barking Town Hall, 1 Clockhouse Avenue, Barking IG11 7LU.