Unauthorised encampments

        Latest update on 1 May 2020:

        In line with Government guidelines, we have ceased evictions of unauthorised encampments during the coronavirus pandemic due to welfare and safety concerns.

        Gypsy and Traveller communities are known to face some of the most severe health inequalities and poor life outcomes with research showing that Gypsies and Travellers are significantly more likely to have a long‐term illness, health problem or disability, experience higher overall prevalence of reported chest pain and higher levels of respiratory problems. This means that within Gypsy and Traveller communities, there is a disproportionately high representation of people who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19).

        Please find more information, that has been issued by Kent Police and Kent Council, on the link below.


        This guidance has been shared with Public Health England .


        If you wish to report specific Anti-Social Behaviour, please report it via 101 or our Anti Social Behaviour form


        Unauthorised encampments

        An unauthorised encampment refers to any encampment or structure being used to occupy land without permission. This includes but is not exclusive to vehicles, tents, yurts and any other structure.

        For general advice on rough sleeping and homelessness please go to the housing web pages https://www.thanet.gov.uk/info-pages/rough-sleepers/

        Following any report of an unauthorised encampment, the council will take steps to establish ownership and notify the owner of the encampment who is then responsible to take steps to re-possess if no permissions have been given.

        The council also work alongside other support agencies to assess any welfare needs of individuals that may be camped, and will undertake any necessary support referrals.

        The council is only legally able to remove encampments on land which they own or lease and all enforcement takes an incremental approach and takes into consideration all factors including the impact it is having on the wider community and if there is associated anti social behaviour being caused.

        The Community Safety Team respond to reports of an unauthorised encampment and liaise with other departments such as housing, open spaces and agencies such as Kent Police and Porchlight.

        If you see an unauthorised encampment that you believe to be on council land please report it via our Anti Social Behaviour form

        Unauthorised Encampments FAQ’s


        Gypsies and Travellers are a minority group and have protected characteristics.  Under the Equalities Act 2010 the could would be acting illegally if it tried to ban them.


        The Council is responsible for managing unauthorised sites on land owned by the Council.

        Kent County Council has a team who manages the local authorities traveller sites and will deal with ones on Kent County Council land.

        Thanet District Council is not responsible for unauthorised sites on private land, but we will always provide advice and support to land owners if they contact us.


        We have to conduct welfare enquiries before any notice can be served requiring them to leave the land.  Each unauthorised site is different and we have to consider if enforcement is necessary with every encampment.  This will be decided based on the impact to the site and its surrounding area.


        It is not always illegal to park on a green space.  However, the type of space (village green, recreational ground or common land) will influence the action taken.


        Trespass is not a criminal offence and there is no provision in law to allow any agency to seize any vehicle if no offence has been committed.


        Council officers and police undertake visits to unauthorised sites and if littering is witnessed a penalty notice can be issued.  However, we are unable to stay at a location waiting for a littering offence – as in law this becomes targeted surveillance.

        To undertake any form of surveillance the council has to apply to the courts for permission beforehand, and this would not be granted to just watch for littering offences.  If the council fail to do this it can be prosecuted.


        Defecating in public is not an offence.  It is an offence not to clear up after your dog but not yourself.  Public defecation can be prohibited by a Public Spaces Protection Order and be subject to a penalty notice but the individual would have to be caught in the act.


        Vehicles can not be clamped until the time available to pay a penalty charge notice has elapsed.  This is 28 days, by which time most unauthorised encampments have moved on.


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