Rugby MP: Police need more powers to deal with unauthorised encampments

Rugby MP Mark Pawsey.
Rugby MP Mark Pawsey.

Police need more powers to take action against Travellers setting up unauthorised encampments, said Rugby MP Mark Pawsey.

Mr Pawsey (pictured in the Commons) made the comment at a parliamentary debate on Monday, September 10.

He joined calls from a number of MPs to reform legislation to allow police to take stronger action.

Mr Pawsey’s suggestion came after Rugby saw a number of unauthorised encampments this summer.

He said: “Whilst the vast majority of Travellers do live in harmony with the settled community, there has been a persistent pattern of unauthorised encampments – often involving people cutting through locks – to gain access to car parks, recreation grounds and green spaces. A particular challenge which Rugby faced this summer was incursions onto private land.

“Residents in Brownsover and Coton Park have seen unauthorised encampments appear on recreation areas still owned by the developer – not only proving difficult to move on under current laws, but also preventing children from using the play equipment during the school holidays.”

Branding the current laws around dealing with unauthorised encampments ‘unsatisfactory’, he told parliament he supports the ‘Irish Option’ – a policy that was introduced in Ireland in 2002 making all deliberate acts of trespass a criminal offence.

Mr Pawsey praised Rugby Borough Council for recently securing a court injunction which gives police powers to arrest anyone setting up unauthorised encampments on borough council land.

But he added: “However, giving both local authorities and the police the additional powers set out in the ‘Irish Option’ to directly remove caravans where unauthorised encampments occur will alleviate the need for these injunctions and ensure that all residents can enjoy the recreation grounds and playgrounds that Rugby is rightly proud of.”