Steve McCabe MP calls for change in law to help combat unauthorised encampments

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Speaking in the debate on Gypsies and Travellers on 9 October, Steve McCabe MP called on the government to consider practical changes in the current law to help authorities deal with the problem of unauthorised encampments.

Steve McCabe MP has already tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament calling for more powers to deal with the problem of unauthorised encampments which has blighted parks and open spaces across Birmingham over recent years.


The MP is calling on the government to:


·         Consider minor legislative change to Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 that would allow police officers to direct unauthorised encampments to a site in a neighbouring authority where those authorities are working together, like the West Midlands Combined Authority.

·         Consider establishing a central fund to help local authorities draw down or borrow the money to pay for transit sites which will eventually pay for themselves through rental charges and deposits.

·         Change in the law to protect private premises that restricts the return of unauthorised encampments to private land.


During the debate the Minister announced they are launching a consultation into effectiveness of enforcement of unauthorised encampments, specifically looking at whether existing powers can be used more effectively.


It is estimated that unauthorised encampments have cost Birmingham City Council as much as £700,000 last year alone in court costs, bailiff costs and increasingly expensive clean up actions. There were an estimated 395 unauthorised encampments across the 7 West Midlands authorities last year; this has almost doubled in 5 years.


Steve McCabe MP said:

“I acknowledge that the problem of repeated unauthorised encampments are posed by a persistent minority and not representative in any way of the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community as a whole but we can’t afford to ignore the impact this is having on parks and open spaces to the detriment of our communities.


“The Minister did announce that the government would be consulting on whether existing powers could be used more effectively and I’m pleased they are looking seriously at enforcement but we should also be looking at new ways to tackle this issue. I’m asking the government to consider my practical suggestions to help alleviate this situation. We need a concerted package of measures, more transit sites, more government support and a willingness to find solutions rather than scapegoats.”

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