Yesterday (20 October 2021) the Telegraph reported that the government's new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is expected to criminalise the offence of intentional trespass with the aim of 'protecting the law-abiding majority from disruption and harm'.
This is perhaps misleading, as some forms of trespass are already criminal offences, for example trespass on residential land (subject to specific criteria) and trespass on non-residential land where other criminal offences (like fly-tipping) are committed during the trespass. The new offences will presumably criminalise trespass on public/common land where there is no owner in occupation to immediately deal with the trespass, while also increasing the punishment for existing criminal trespass offences.
The Telegraph's article uses the words “trespasser” and “traveller” interchangeably throughout, implying that the law will be directed at travellers. This is highly unlikely, given a significant number of the traveller community are protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010. The broader term 'trespasser' is likely to be more accurate.
According to the article, new powers will be granted to the police so that they can remove trespassers who:
- are verbally abusive, intimidate a resident or prevent locals from leaving their homes;
- create excessive litter and/or noise;
- prevent locals from accessing amenities; and/or
- cause damage to the land.
Potential punishments under the new laws are said to include:
- the arrest of trespassers;
- seizure of property (including vehicles); and
- a three month prison sentence and/or fine up to £2,500.
What do you think of the new offences and powers? Will they be sufficient to protect law-abiding people from disruption and harm?
Please feel free to contact us if you need any assistance with an issue relating to trespass or any other legal matter.
'Protecting the law-abiding majority from disruption and harm' Travellers who breach the new law face a three-month prison sentence, fine of up to £2,500, or both. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “No one should have unchecked rights to trespass on other people’s land without their permission – or cause boundless misery to local communities without consequence.