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Travellers in Ipswich - Frequently Asked Questions

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Like many towns, Ipswich sometimes experiences Traveller encampments on its parks, open spaces or car parks. 

The Borough Council takes swift action to recover possession of its land but is often asked why the Ttravellers are not moved on immediately.

 These Frequently Asked Questions explain what the issues are and how we deal with them.

Do Ipswich Borough Council or the Police have a duty to move Gypsies/Travellers when they are camped on private land without the landowner's permission?

No. The powers given to local councils and the Police are discretionary and can only be used when certain conditions exist. 

 What about the law on trespass?

Trespass is not a criminal offence (it is a civil matter) and prevention is the responsibility of the landowner – not Ipswich Borough Council or the Police.

What happens if there is anti-social behaviour or other criminal activity linked to an encampment?

Most Gypsies and Travellers are law-abiding citizens. The Police will investigate any crime committed if there is a complaint. 

Can the Police move Gypsies/Travellers on?

The Police may activate their powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to require Gypsies/Ttavellers to leave. This can happen if the Police are satisfied that two or more people are trespassing on the land, and the landowner has taken reasonable steps to make them leave (and they have failed to do so). In addition, one of the following also has to apply:

  • Damage has been caused to the land or property, or
  • Threatening/abusive/insulting behaviour has been used against the occupier, his family or agent, or
  • The trespassers have six or more vehicles.

 What happens if Gypsies/Travellers occupy Council land?

Ipswich Borough Council, like all local authorities, has to follow a process laid down by law to remove illegal encampments. This involves taking the following steps:

  • Informing the Gypsies/Travellers they are illegally occupying our land;
  • Meeting Suffolk County Council representatives, the Police (where appropriate) and other partners to organise a welfare visit to ensure the general health, welfare and education needs of the children are being met;
  • Holding a case conference to consider any issues and, if agreed, deciding to take eviction action;
  • Applying to the court for a hearing date;
  • Serving papers informing the Gypsies/Travellers we are going to seek an eviction notice;
  • Going to court and asking magistrates for permission to evict;
  • If granted, serving the eviction notice;
  • Cleaning the site for public use once the Gypsies/Travellers leave;
  • If Gypsies/Travellers do not leave within the period specified on the eviction notice, the Council must apply to the Court to enforce the eviction notice. It will then work with the Court Bailiff and Police to remove the encampment.

How long does it take for an illegal encampment to be removed from Council land?

This will vary on a case-by-case basis but the legal process outlined in an earlier question does take time. The Council takes every step it can to return its land to its intended use as quickly as possible but has to act within the legal framework.

What can I do if Gypsies/Travellers camp on my land?

You should contact the Gypsy and Traveller Unit at Suffolk County Council. 

How do residents complain about unauthorised encampments on Ipswich Borough Council land?

Ipswich Borough Council’s Environmental Health Service can be contacted by email on PSHEmail@ipswich.gov.uk

If the encampment is on Council-owned land, the Environmental Health team will lead the process to recover the land, liaising with the Police and Suffolk County Council.

Contact Details

Environmental Health,
Ipswich Borough Council, 
3W Grafton House,
15-17 Russell Road,
Ipswich, 
IP1 2DE