UNDER Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, police have full powers to remove an illegal traveller encampment on public or private land. Police can take this action once the landowner has taken “reasonable steps” to ask the trespassers to leave ( which can simply be a written notice to trespassers asking them to leave within a few hours ), and as long as there are 2 or more trespassers and 6 or more vehicles ( including caravans ). There is no need for there to be any criminal offences before police can act.

Why then are West Mercia Police repeatedly failing to use Section 61 powers within a day of illegal traveller encampments being established ? And why are West Mercia Police continually lying to the public and press and media generally by claiming they do not have such powers to remove and instead passing the buck to local councils who can ill afford lengthy court procedures?

Surely it is now time for the Chief Constable of West Mercia to instruct his officers to use Section 61 urgently in all cases of illegal traveller encampments and if he does not for the Police and Crime Commissioner to remove him from his post.

Peter Rowbottom