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Gypsies and Travellers

At Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council an inter-departmental approach to Gypsy and Traveller issues is taken in forming and delivering policy in this area.

Current updates:

Report a site:

Useful information:

See also:

Current Traveller updates

  • no current updates

See also:

Report an unauthorised Gypsy or Traveller site

If you suspect that a vehicle, caravan or motorhome is being lived in by the roadside or on public land you should report it to the Gypsy & Travellers Liaison Officer at West Sussex County Council.

You can report this online or by phone via the link below:

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Advice for residents


What happens when Gypsies and Travellers visit the area?

Gypsies and Travellers will visit the area for a number of reasons, which include economic (looking for employment/work or continuing with existing contracts), seasonal holiday travel, and to visit relatives.

Most of the time, Gypsies and Travellers like to keep themselves to themselves. In some situations (such as a wedding or a funeral, if a relative is in hospital, or if they have broken down), they may stop closer to residential areas.

The Councils receives information quickly from a number of sources when Gypsies and Travellers are in the area. Working with Sussex Police, other agencies and the Gypsies/Travellers themselves, the Councils seek to minimize disruption to residents during such a visit.

Where cases of unauthorised camping are identified, each case is taken on its own merit following Department for Communities and Local Government guidelines.

I have seen Gypsies/Travellers camping on the side of the road and sometimes on parks or other Council owned land, what can the Councils do in these cases?

Adur & Worthing Councils will consider each case individually. In all cases the site is visited and every effort made to make sure that the Gypsies/Travellers keep the site clean and tidy.

Adur & Worthing Councils cannot remove unauthorised encampments from its own land immediately. The Councils must act according to national legislation and guidelines by:

  • Showing that the Gypsies/Travellers are on the land without consent.
  • Making enquiries regarding the general health, welfare and children's education.
  • Ensuring that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied with.
  • Following a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land and details of the illegal encampment that will enable them to successfully obtain the necessary authority from the Courts to order the Gypsies/Travellers to leave the site.

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What should I do if I suspect that an encampment is unauthorised?

Contact Adur & Worthing Councils. The Councils can only take enforcement action when an unauthorised encampment is on Council owned land but we will notify other landlords and advise them on their rights and responsibilities where necessary.

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How long will it take for the Gypsies/Travellers to be removed?

This will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case. The Councils will need to take account of the issues outlined above as well as how soon they can obtain a court hearing date. Generally it will take at least a week, but can take up ten working days.

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Can the court refuse to grant the Councils an order to move Gypsies/Travellers on?

An order to move Gypsies/Travellers can be refused if the court considers:

  • There is an unavoidable reason for the Gypsies/Travellers to stay on the site, or,
  • If the court believes that the Councils have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the Gypsies/Travellers and not kept health and welfare information up to date. The Councils must try to find out this information before going to court.

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What can the Police do?

Trespass is a civil matter and not a criminal offence. Prevention of trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner and not the Police.

Sussex Police will attend and carefully assess each incident of unauthorised camping and under Home Office guidelines, act with regard and in proportion to the circumstances surrounding individual encampments. As a priority, this is likely to include the exchange of information with relevant staff from the local authority. It may also include regular patrols and visits to the area of the encampment, in order to re-assure local residents and also to ensure a good rapport is established with those who have moved onto the land. This can be essential in managing the impact of the encampment. Police will investigate all reports of criminal activity and aim to take positive action where appropriate.

Police also have discretionary powers to direct Gypsies/Travellers off land where activity contravenes legislation contained within Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Specific criteria have to be met and includes, for example, where the Gypsies/Travellers have with them six or more vehicles or damage has occurred. The use of this power will only be considered in situations of more serious criminality or where the encampment is on a very sensitive site which is likely to cause significant disruption to the local community. An example of a sensitive site could be a school playing field, during term time, where the presence of the encampment severely disrupts the daily activity of local schoolchildren.

More information about 'Gypsy Traveller Liaison Officers' and 'Unauthorised encampments' is available on the Sussex Police website by using the links below:

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Advice for landowners


Do the Councils have a duty to move Gypsies/Travellers when they are camped without the landowner's permission?

No. If Gypsies/Travellers are camped on Council land, the Councils may choose to evict them. If the encampment is on private land, there may be planning implications but the landowner's have the initial responsibility to deal with the Gypsies and travellers.

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What do I do if Gypsies/Travellers come to my land?

The first thing to do is to talk to the Gypsies/Travellers to make it clear that this is actually your land. Ask why they are there, and how long they are hoping to stay. Assess if they are causing a disturbance. If the encampment has spread onto a Right of Way or Highway, you should contact West Sussex County Council. It is a good idea to inform your solicitor of the situation and to ask about likely legal costs.

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What if the Gypsies/Travellers won't talk to me?

Most Gypsy and Traveller families welcome the opportunity to speak to other members of the community. Bear in mind though Travellers can be suspicious of people from outside their community and may be cautious at first about talking openly. If you feel negotiations are not going well, leave the discussion for the time being and seek advice from your solicitor.

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If there aren't any problems, is it OK to let them stay?

Some landowners are happy to let small groups stay where good relations are established early and there are no major problems. Some welcome the contribution Gypsy and Traveller culture makes to trade and community life - even if just for a short time. Long-term occupation will require planning permission from the Councils.

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What if I need to reclaim possession of my land?

Your solicitor will most likely advise that possession be sought in the Civil Courts under Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules. This will involve:

  • Asking trespassers to leave (landowners responsibility)
  • Serving a claim form and particulars of claim for possession of the land (landowners responsibility)
  • Seeking a possession order in court (landowners responsibility)
  • Serving the possession order, and, if necessary (landowners responsibility)
  • Executing a warrant for possession with County Court Bailiffs (landowners responsibility)

Usually, once an order is served, Gypsies/Travellers will vacate independently. You can engage private bailiffs to remove unauthorised occupiers without a possession order in some cases, but you should take legal advice before pursuing this course of action.

Please note that when proceedings are undertaken in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a Court Order for eviction, there should usually be a minimum of two clear days between service of documents and the Court hearing.

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What will this cost me?

Your solicitor will charge their own fees, so check costs first.

Disposing of rubbish will be at your own cost but Adur & Worthing Councils may be able to offer you a quote for the work if you prefer. For further information please contact 01903 851729

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What can the Police do?

Trespass is a civil matter and not a criminal offence. Prevention of trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner and not the Police.

Sussex Police will attend and carefully assess each incident of unauthorised camping and under Home Office guidelines, act with regard and in proportion to the circumstances surrounding individual encampments. As a priority, this is likely to include the exchange of information with relevant staff from the local authority. It may also include regular patrols and visits to the area of the encampment, in order to re-assure local residents and also to ensure a good rapport is established with those who have moved onto the land. This can be essential in managing the impact of the encampment. Police will investigate all reports of criminal activity and aim to take positive action where appropriate.

Police also have discretionary powers to direct Gypsies/Travellers off land where activity contravenes legislation contained within Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Specific criteria have to be met and includes, for example, where the Gypsies/Travellers have with them six or more vehicles or damage has occurred. The use of this power will only be considered in situations of more serious criminality or where the encampment is on a very sensitive site which is likely to cause significant disruption to the local community. An example of a sensitive site could be a school playing field, during term time, where the presence of the encampment severely disrupts the daily activity of local schoolchildren.

More information about 'Gypsy Traveller Liaison Officers' and 'Unauthorised encampments' is available on the Sussex Police website by using the links below:

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If the landowner fails to take the appropriate action to remove the Gypsies/Travellers, what will the Councils do?

If the landowner is in breach of any planning or license requirements, then the Councils may choose to take proceedings against the landowner that require removal of the unauthorised encampment.

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Definition - The meaning of Gypsies and Travellers

For the purposes of Section 225 of the Housing Act 2004 (duties of local housing authorities: accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers) 'Gypsies and Travellers' means:

  • persons with a cultural tradition of nomadism or of living in a caravan; and
  • all other persons of a nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin, including:
    • such persons who, on the grounds only of their own or their family's or dependant's educational or health needs or old age, have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently;
      and
    • members of an organised group of travelling show people or circus people (whether or not travelling together as such).

For the purposes of the Department for Communities and Local Government Planning Policy for traveller sites ( March 2012) Gypsies and Travellers means:

  • Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but,
  • excluding members of an organised group of travelling show people or circus people travelling together as such.

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Our procedure for removing unauthorised encampments

Please see the attached document which contains a flow chart of the processes involved:

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Information and advice from West Sussex County Council

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) has the following information relating to gypsies and travellers on their website that you may find useful on their website:

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Information and advice from gov.uk

Central Government has the following information relating to gypsies and travellers on their website that you may find useful on the gov.uk website:

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Previous traveller updates

2017

  • Brooklands park, Worthing
    - August 2017
  • Sompting Recreation Ground
    - August 2017
  • North Farm Road car park, Lancing
    - July 2017
  • Beach House West Car Park, Worthing
    - July 2017
  • Goring Gap, Worthing
    - July 2017
  • Victoria Park, Worthing
    - June 2017
  • Lancing Beach Green
    - June 2017
  • Dairy Crest site, Sompting Road, Broadwater, Worthing
    - May 2017
  • Car park, North Farm Road, Lancing
    - May 2017
  • Albion St Lorry Park, Southwick
    - May 2017
  • Albion St Lorry Park, Southwick
    - April 2017
  • Albion Street Lorry Park, Southwick
    - March 2017
  • Southwick Square Car Park, Southwick
    - March 2017
  • Southwick Recreation Ground - bowling club car park
    - March 2017
  • North Farm Road Car Park, Lancing
    - March 2017
  • Morrison's car park, Worthing
    - February 2017

2016

  • Albion Street Car Park, Southwick
    - November 2016
  • Victoria Park, Worthing
    - July 2016
  • Fulbeck Avenue, Durrington
    - July 2016
  • Broadwater Green, Worthing
    - June 2016
  • Teville Gate/Road, Worthing
    - May 2016
  • Eastern Avenue, Shoreham-by-Sea
    - March 2016
  • Mill Hill Car Park, Shoreham-by-Sea
    - February 2016

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