Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster has welcomed new measures announced by the Government to tackle illegal encampments that make it easier for police officers to intervene to reduce distress to the public.
The Government is set to bring in a new criminal offence of intentional trespass applying to anyone aged 18 or over who resides or intends to reside on land without consent of the occupier of the land.
It will also amend the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to broaden the types of harm included within the legislation to include damage, disruption and distress.
The changes follow the Government’s consultation ‘Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’ and are aimed at extending existing powers to give police greater tools to deal with the harm posed by unauthorised encampments in a ‘proportionate, effective and efficient’ manner.
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster has received contact from concerned residents since being elected who have raised concerns about illegal encampments and the impact of these on their communities.
As a result, she is working to establish a new approach to the issue with local partners. A dedicated taskforce, with representation from a host of partners in the area, will be set up swiftly in response to incidents in each local authority area.
The group will work together to agree speedy action to minimise impact on the community.
Commissioner Angelique Foster said: “People have told me that illegal encampments impact on the quality of local life. I want to ensure the rights of local residents are balanced against the needs of the travelling community. It is important to act swiftly and effectively and ensure residents feel supported.
“I am taking the issue very seriously and am pleased the Government is taking action to address these problems nationally, recognising the distress and misery for those communities living near an unauthorised encampment.
“There is a clear commitment between all partners to devise a more effective system to enable illegal encampments to be identified and removed quickly. The introduction of new legislation means the police will be better placed to deal with challenging issues and support that process.”
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