(Written/published online in 2011; this mooted legislation wasn’t implemented and isn’t in the process of being revisited as of now)
Govt Propose new ‘Intentional Trespass’ law
The ConDem government say they’re going to make camping on private land a criminal offence. The proposed law of ‘intentional trespass’ (as yet not written up into a draft parliamentary bill) is being advanced as a general measure, not as a measure specifically targeting travellers (because if it was traveller specific it would be ruled unlawful on the grounds of discrimination). ‘Intentional trespass’ will make any unauthorised access to land a criminal offence. See the Commons debate from 8th Sept. last year here:
They’re modelling making trespass a criminal offence after the current Irish Law:
– which makes it an offence to “enter and occupy any land where such entry or occupation is likely to prevent persons entitled to use the land from making reasonable use of the land or substantially interfere with the land, any amenity in respect of the land, the lawful use of the land or any amenity in respect of the land.” (paraphrased and condensed by Sam from ASS)
As well as travellers the changes would serious impact on squatting.
The Ministry of Justice have also been undertaking a review on how to strengthen the law in regard to incorporating specific measures relating to squatting to make squatting a criminal offence as it is in Scotland (as with ‘intentional trepass’, it has not yet been written up into a draft parliamentary bill). At present, homeowners in England have to obtain an order from the civil courts to force squatters to leave. Their review is reportedly also examining if interim possession orders, requiring squatters to leave a property, could be granted by the courts within 24 hours rather than taking up to a week.
Here is the Govt’s current guidance on squatting:
A lot of these changes were proposed, before the election, in the Conservative ‘Planning Green Paper’ released back in February 2010 (see page 18):
…or see this page for a digest of the proposals —
Alongside this, there are also forthcoming changes in policing tactics to respond to ‘real-time protests’ which would encompass land occupations of relevance to climate camps and other eco-protest as well as splinter-group protests emanating from larger demonstrations such as happened at the G20 protests in London on 1st April 2009 and during the recent student demonstrations in London at the end of 2010.
This information about the forthcoming change in policing tactics is taken from a recent HMIC press release (08/02/2011), on the release of their report on their review of adapting policing tactics to real-time to protests, in reference to what they describe as “the changing nature of protest” (ie: the increasing use of digital media and mobile phones):
HMIC Press Release (dated 09/02/2011):
POLICE ARE ADAPTING THEIR TACTICS TO THE CHANGING NATURE OF PROTESTS, BUT PACE MUST ACCELERATE
Police forces cannot plan for a quiet world and must swiftly adapt in real-time to protests that pose risks to public safety, a report by H.M. Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found today.
HMIC’s 2009 reports, ‘Adapting to Protest and Adapting to Protest – Nurturing the British Model of Policing’, balanced human rights with keeping the peace during the digital age, when social media and mobile phones enable demonstrators to organise and change their plans quickly.
Today’s review considers the implications of the British model, built on “toe-to-toe” policing – the principle that officers should police amongst the people without barriers or obstructions.
This approach has to-date prevailed, even during recent events, where protests escalated to include violence against officers on the ground and attacks on iconic buildings.
However, HMIC is calling for the police to remain adaptable to the changing nature of protest, and is urging the police to consider how tactics used to safeguard peaceful protest can be developed to deter those with criminal intent.
H.M. Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Denis O’Connor, said, “The pattern of protest is evolving in terms of numbers, spread, disruption and, in some instances, violence.”
“Police tactics must be as adaptable as possible to the circumstances, and the challenge of striking the right balance between competing rights is a difficult judgment call. Commendably, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is taking up most of HMIC’s recommendations in their new training procedures. However, these changes are taking time to embed with officers; months, if not years. The new ACPO manual, finalised in October 2010, will be used as the basis for training from Spring 2011.”
Rest of this press release is available on the HMIC website, at: