Residents of Epsom and Ewell will be aware of a number of incidents involving Travellers moving into parks and other public land and the nuisance it has caused. The local Guardian newspaper has recently reported on incursions on Alexandra Recreational Ground, Epsom & Ewell High School, Nonsuch Park, Hook Road Arena and Stamford Green. The Borough Council and Police have limited powers to move Travellers on and must follow very strict protocol when doing so. Removing trespassers from public and private land is a lengthy process. Damage and disruption caused during this time, especially to the local environment are often irreparable and subsequent clean-up operations costly. Currently, repeat offenders simply move on to the next available open space. The problems experienced by Epsom & Ewell are replicated throughout the country.
There is a national Petition taking off for making entering and occupying land without consent a criminal offence. The Petition wants to give police the powers to: – Arrest without warrant. – Remove, store and dispose of objects. – Issue penalties and proceedings. Other countries already have provision in law for this.
In Ireland, the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994, was amended in 2002 to address this issue. To sign the petition, please follow this link: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/220663