With the easing of lockdown restrictions, the traveller community is back on the road.
The traveller community has been subject to the same restrictions as the rest of the UK during the pandemic: sites have been locked down, travel bans in place, restrictions on work.
Weddings have been minimal, but will start again, causing large scale movement. Although some larger events such as the Appleby Horse Fair have been cancelled again this year, others are starting to be planned.
Local authorities have been supporting the traveller community by providing access to basic facilities, transient sites and applications for grants and funding to support the provisions for the traveller community.
Whilst some local authorities have tolerated sites as a temporary measure, we are now seeing an increase in instructions for the removal of travellers.
Each year the Government undertakes a traveller count in January and July. The figures from the count in January reveal that the total number of traveller caravans in England in January 2020 was 22,710. This is 48 more than the 22,662 reported in January 2019.
Overall, the January 2020 count indicated that 88 per cent of traveller caravans in England were on authorised land and that 12 per cent were on unauthorised land. This is data taken from a specific point in time, so the numbers fluctuate throughout the year.
The general trend shows an increase in the overall total from 8,358 caravans in January 1979 to 22,710 in January 2020.
Removal of travellers
There are two options when it comes to the removal of travellers, these are the common law route or the writ of possession route.
To evict under common law, you should use certified Enforcement Agents who will serve an eviction notice giving the trespassers 24 hours to move from your property. If after 24 hours has passed, the trespassers haven’t moved on, then you may proceed to evict them.
Halsburys Laws of England (Paragraph 1400, Volume 45, 4th Edition) states that:
“If a trespasser peaceably enters or is on land, the person who is in or entitled to possession may request him to leave, and if he refuses to leave, remove him from the land using no more force than is reasonably necessary. This right is not ousted if the person entitled to possession has succeeded in an action at law for possession but chooses not to sue out his writ”
Writ of possession
A writ of possession should be used if there is any chance that the eviction might be physically resisted or where you envisage violence or any issues with the eviction. Under a High Court writ of possession, the Police are required under the Courts Act to assist the Enforcement Agent.
Once you have obtained judgment in the County Court, you can transfer enforcement to the High Court and obtain a writ of possession for £66; you must complete the necessary forms. There is no further notice required to be given to the travellers if you have obtained a writ of possession.
A safety-first approach
We can guide you through the best option based on the specifics of your eviction needs and will undertake a thorough risk assessment and site evaluation to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
All our enforcement agents have undergone rigorous training covering the effective use of protective equipment and social distancing requirements, how to protect themselves and those that they encounter in the community.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance