The council has established procedures that must be followed in the event of an illegal encampment by tavellers or any other group. It is important to note that the process is only applicable to illegal encampments on council owned land. The process has been based on best practice and the requirement to follow due legal process taking into consideration the requirements of any group setting up an illegal encampment and the impact on the local community.
When the council is made aware of an illegal encampment on council owned land the following process must be followed:
Stage 1: Welfare Site Assessment - officers must carry out a site assessment taking details of the group, the vehicles involved, any welfare issues, medical requirements and detriment to the local community. The assessment provides information necessary to determine the most appropriate course of action.
Stage 2: Direction to Leave - the council can issue a Direction to Leave the site for all the vehicles and people that are part of the illegal encampment. The Direction to Leave includes a stated time by which the vehicles and people must leave the site.
Stage 3: Summons to Court - if the vehicles and people have not left the site by the stated time on the Direction to Leave the council will apply for a court appearance to apply for permission to evict. Once the date and time of the court appearance has been confirmed a Summons to attend court must be issued to all the vehicles and people on the illegal encampment.
Stage 4: Order to Evict - if the council is successful and secures a legal order to evict the vehicles and people from the site a formal notification of the order must be issued to all the vehicles and people on site providing them with a minimum of 24 hours notice from the time the Order is issued on site.
Stage 5: Eviction - if the vehicles and people have not left the site after 24 hours from the issue of the Order the council can legally evict the illegal encampment. It is necessary to notify the police about any eviction to ensure public order is maintained.
The process is applicable to illegal encampments on the specific site the group occupy, if the group moves off the site and sets up a further illegal encampment on another site that is public owned land, at any stage of the process, the council is required to start again with a Welfare Assessment and the subsequent stages of the process.