Over the course of 2020, the UK has seen various configurations of lockdown restrictions as a measure to control COVID-19. These have inevitably impacted property owners and premises managers, with new patterns of mobile unauthorised encampments and trespassers being reported and increases in the movement of these camps. Such situations can see an increased risk of theft and damage to property, as well as increases in potential for threats to those using the building.
Legal removal – common law or writ of possession?
The process of illegally entering someone else’s land without permission is classed as trespassing -whether encamped or temporarily passing by.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of land or property owner to responsibly deal with trespassers of any kind, mitigating damage and maintaining security awareness to protect the welfare of all involved. For legal removal, there are two different routes which could be taken: Common Law, Section 61, Criminal Justice Act or Writ of Possession.
Under Common Law, the property or landowner has the power to request a trespasser to leave. If met with refusal, this person can remove using “no more force than is reasonably necessary”. If this proves unsuccessful or the landowner does not feel comfortable doing this, Enforcement Agents can be engaged to issue a notice of enforcement. This gives the trespassers 24 hours’ notice to move from the premises; failing to vacate will lead to forceful action towards eviction.
Writ of Possession:
This requires going to the County Court to arrange an order for possession. Opting for this means should only be in anticipation the removal will not occur without physical resistance, violence, or any other issues with the eviction. As the courts are involved, this form of removal can take longer, however, it is an absolute resolution giving certainty in the outcome of the eviction as resistance to the writ is a criminal offence.
More specifically, it is to be noted, if the eviction is of mobile unauthorised encampments from local authority sites, Article 8 of the Human Rights Act “Respect for your Private & Family Life” should be considered. You may also need to check if children or livestock are on the encampment and if special considerations need to be made for their care during the procedures.
What are the best practices to follow in incidents of trespassers?
Over our years of experience, we have developed resilient “housekeeping” and best practise methods to prevent and protect our clients, as well as effectively diffuse any issues of trespassers swiftly.
Before, follow guidance on perimeter security issued by the CPNI, helping to effectively “deter, detect, mitigate and respond” to issues surrounding the perimeter of the property.
In the instance of trespassers being reported on-site, be secure aware, vigilant and adhere to common-sense prevention protocols. For example, securing windows, doors, entry points, keep passwords obstructed on entry and exit, secure any external items which could be damaged or used to cause damage (bins).
Do you know these 5 ways you can prevent unauthorised encampments and protect your premises?
Prevention, in many cases, is often better than cure. These methods can help prevent and deter trespasser activity and could be points of consideration:
1) Installing barriers or obstacles (e.g. concrete blocks) – either semi-permanent, permanent, or manned gatehouses to offer the first line of defence.
2) Ensuring secure locking procedures using heavy-duty padlocks on all doors and gates for resilient protection.
3) Gate, high-barriers, and perimeter fencing can be another extremely effective deterrent.
4) Installing security cameras is a successful means for deterring and protecting your premises in case of any criminal activity.
5) Expanding protection strategies to include manned guarding or patrolling creates a visible deterrent and puts someone on-site to efficiently handle any issues as they occur.
How can Expeditious Services help you?
In the event of any kind of trespassing activity, Expeditious Services can:
- Deploy security officers to protect and be on-site within 2 hours’ notice
- Distribute letters of intent from the landowner
- Act as a central point of communication for property owners to manage the incident effectively, through our CCHD
- Remotely monitor the incident through CCTV
- Conduct consultative mitigation discussing and deploying the best possible methods to suit your premises
- Deploy protection measures e.g. CCTV installation and monitoring, patrolling, manned guarding or any of the prevention methods discussed above