Illegal encampments

Unauthorised and illegal encampments can be a nightmare for land owners. In particular, sole traders with weak security can often be seen as soft targets for illegal encampments. Nevertheless, although illegal encampments can be difficult to deal with, the following advice can be of use:

Land owners who have successfully removed unauthorised encampments from their land recommend to firstly deter encampments with secure boundaries, lighting, chains and general heightened security.

Formally authorised High Court Enforcement Officers, who regularly deal with illegal encampment cases suggest speed is imperative to prevent more trespassers entering the land, more damage being caused, and more costs being accrued. An Authorised Enforcement Officer, along with a legal specialist, will handle illegal encampment cases under Common Law. Once the Enforcement Officer attends the site, 24 hours’ notice is given for the trespassers to depart, before physical steps can be taken. However, this approach cannot be implemented if the trespassers have moved into any structure on the property.

An alternative option to counteract unauthorised encampments is to obtain an Order for Possession via the County Court. High Court Enforcement Officers have powers of arrest and can command the police attend to ensure the Order for Possession is carried out. Resistance by the trespassers is classed as a criminal offence, which means the landowner has protection against any additional claims. No notice is required under this method; therefore, trespassers will not have the opportunity to erect barricades to prevent their removal.

It is also important to know your rights – Landowners are advised to have an up to date plan of their land and copies of documents such as title deeds, land registration documents, grazing and tenancy agreements. Being able to prove ownership and know your legal rights over the land is important.

For further information contact Frank Smith & Solicitors on 01242 801 748 or


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