At the end of last week, a number of residents contacted me about an unauthorised encampment at Waterbeach Recreation Ground. I am pleased to report that the site was clear as of Sunday 1 August. My office were in constant communication with the Police and I visited the site on Saturday morning to assess the situation for myself.
I appreciate the significant distress and frustration experienced by residents in recent days over the encampment. I am also sorry to hear about damage that has been caused to people’s properties. For any residents who have had crimes committed against them or their property please do report these to the Police so that they can investigate.
Whilst the vast majority of travellers are law abiding citizens, unfortunately I know that unauthorised encampments have been an increasing problem for my constituents over recent years. I have worked closely with the Police and the councils on this matter and have seen, first hand, the limitations of the existing powers of enforcement.
I welcome the fact that as part of the landmark 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, or 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. Further information about the plans can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strengthening-police-powers…