In early 2019, a meeting was held in Runnymede, which was attended by senior representatives from virtually every Surrey district council, together with Surrey County Council, Surrey Police, the Police and Crime Commissioner and a number of Surrey MPs. Plans were discussed to ensure that any future unauthorised encampments are dealt with as quickly as possible.
In early 2020, Michael raised this issue again with the Chief Constable of Surrey Police, and wrote to the Home Secretary, the Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, to highlight the difficulties in dealing with such encampments swiftly.
The Government consulted on measures to criminalise the act of trespassing when setting up an unauthorised encampment. The Consultation closed on 4 March 2020, and the Home Secretary wrote to Michael on 1 April 2020 confirming that the submissions were being reviewed and that a response would be issued in due course. A copy of that letter is attached below.
Following the incursion in Lightwater in April 2020, Michael wrote again to the Home Secretary to ask for an update. Her response is attached below.
In December 2020, Michael wrote once more to the Home Secretary to ask what progress had been made following her clarification in June that the Home Office’s analysis of the responses to the Consultation was almost complete.
In March 2021, Michael received an update from the Home Secretary confirming that following the completion of the Consultation, the Government planned to strengthen police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments. You can find out more information at the following webpage:
As part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill, new laws will be introduced to increase the powers available to the police in England and Wales. The Bill will introduce a new criminal offence where a person resides or intends to reside on any public or private land without permission, and has caused or is likely to cause, significant harm, obstruction, harassment or distress. In addition, the Bill amends the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to broaden the list of harms that can be considered by the police when directing people away from land; and increase the period in which persons directed away from land must not return from three months to 12 months. Amendments to the 1994 Act will in addition allow police to direct trespassers away from land that forms part of a highway.