Update: 21 September
The travellers have left the field. South Bucks have placed two blocks at the field entrance and organised a clean up. There is a meeting this week between Dorney Parish Council, the Police and South Bucks. This will be reviewed at the next council meeting.
Update: 9th September
The travellers remain on the field, past their move-by date.
The police are due to be represented at tonight’s Parish Council Meeting.
The following email was sent to the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 13 September 2016 12:19
To: Chief Constable
Cc: Murray Brendan; firstname.lastname@example.org; ‘Clerk Dorney’; email@example.com; ‘Clerk Dorney’
Subject: Travellers on Trumpers Field Dorney. Log number 351/2
Dear Mr Habgood,
I write to you to bring to your attention the problems we are facing in Dorney Reach in South Buckinghamshire. We are having continued unauthorised Traveller encampments next to the local Primary School. The local village hall and Village playground are also on the same piece of land. The last inclusion required the gates to the land being destroyed, allowing the travellers access; on this occasion a large concrete barricade was forcibly removed to allow them to trespass.
Post the last infringement the council had to send in a cleanup team and also arrange for another team to remove human excrement left behind. On this current occasion we have had similar reports. This is all within 20 yards of the School and 70 yards of the children’s playground. This is also on a site of Scientific interest due to local forna. The local community has recently raised £ 43,000 for an additional extension to the playground facilities for the local Children/School children. This construction work was booked to commence now, the Playground committee do not feel confident about leaving the new equipment and contractors will not leave construction equipment on the land, the project has therefore stalled and postponement may affect the funds promised for completion.
It seems to many in our area that the Police have a real disinclination to act, I have had emails explaining the Police position; It seems however that the travellers seem also to think the same, as they choose to force entry back to trespass on the same site.
If you do a few minutes of searching online, it’s easy to find of examples of Police forces across the country applying Section 61 very rapidly, in much less clear cut cases. How and why are those forces interpreting the guidelines/law so differently ? It would seem that TVP have sufficient grounds for action on a number of issues just on the information provided in this email. The South Bucks, Travellers liaison has expressed the same view.
I would like you to please provide comment, ideally promptly, so I may pass on to our local community via the local Parish Council and Village website. To reassure people locally. I’ve copied in Dominic Grieve for his views.
Cllr. Andrew Purdie: Dorney Parish Council
The following response was received from Inspector Brendan
From: Murray Brendan [mailto:Brendan.Murray@thamesvalley.pnn.police.uk]
Sent: 13 September 2016 15:09
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; Chief Constable
Cc: email@example.com; ‘Clerk Dorney’; firstname.lastname@example.org; ‘Clerk Dorney’; Hitch Yvette; Messenger Scott; Mutch Melvin; Upton Nicola
Subject: RE: Travellers on Trumpers Field Dorney. Log number 351/2
I intend to respond in part to your email sent to me yesterday and to the email you have sent today to the chief constable and others.
Yesterday you asked about whether or not I had seen reports about human excrement in the children’s play area. In short no I had not.
Again you make reference to “section 61” and again I can only reiterate that the police powers are only able to be used where conditions are met that mean they are lawful. It is incumbent then for me to repeat with integrity that in my opinion there are not sufficient grounds for me to use these powers in the circumstances. I am disappointed to learn that you have a contradictory view to mine expressed by the travellers liaison for South Bucks (with whom I have not spoken).
I am in no way disinclined to act and have made that clear to you. It is essential that we act within the law and consider the interests of all parties which includes those who are part of the incursion and the residents who are aggrieved at their presence. The local authority served notice for the group to leave on Sunday, they have failed to leave and the local authority will therefore need to approach the courts to expedite the process.
Thames Valley police have made a number of visits to the site now, maintaining a log as they do so. At no point have I been made aware of a change in circumstances that would allow the police to use the s.61 powers to remove the trespassers with immediate effect.
I am under no illusion that this response will be satisfactory to you but I can only reiterate again that we must work within and by the law in these cases. I’ve no doubt that you will find evidence of s.61 powers being used in other cases and I have done so myself in fact, but these are always made on a case by case basis. In this case as I stated earlier I am not satisfied that these powers are available to me.
We will continue to work with the local authority and will continue to visit the site and monitor behaviour and environment.
Inspector Brendan Murray
The following is the detail of Section 61
Sections 61-62 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act
43. If the landowner or his agent has asked the unauthorised campers to leave the land by a particular date and time, and they have failed to do so, and any of the three following conditions have also been met:
• the unauthorised campers have caused damage to the land or property on the land;
• they have used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour to the occupier, a member of his family or his employee or agent;
• there are six or more vehicles on the land.
44. The police can use Section 61 of the CJPOA to direct unauthorised campers to leave the site. They can do this without reference to the courts.
45. The initial step is for the landowner to make a formal request to the police that they use their powers under the CJPOA.
46. A senior police officer then considers whether it is appropriate to use the power, based on various factors: • whether there are there other activities on the encampment, such as serious breaches of the peace, disorder, criminal activity or anti-social behaviour which would necessitate police involvement under their wider powers; • given the impact of the unauthorised encampment on the environment and the local settled community, is it reasonable and proportionate to use police powers; • is action by the police legally sustainable; • are sufficient resources available.
47. Although case law (R v The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police ex p. Small) has established that police officers are not under any obligation to undertake welfare enquiries with unauthorised campers, they must be aware of humanitarian considerations when considering action to remove an encampment. The joint ODPM/Home Office document ‘Guidance on managing unauthorised camping’ recommends that local authorities should be involved in the process. Gypsy and Traveller – Enforcement Powers 12
48. Once a decision to use police powers is made, a uniformed police officer visits the encampment and advises the occupiers that they are required to leave by a certain date and time, and provides them with a copy of the legislation. The police may determine the period of notice to the unauthorised campers to leave, and this may be hours or days. The police may also videotape their visit to the encampment in case of later challenge or dispute.
49. If the unauthorised campers fail to leave by the date and time specified by the police officer, or return to that location within three months of the direction, they are then committing an offence and liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding £2,500. Further, if a direction issued under Section 61 is contravened, a police officer may then seize and remove the vehicles under Section 62 of the CJPOA. Vehicles would be impounded in an appropriate police facility with a fee payable for their return.
Update: 7 September
The travellers have been served notice.
In order to comply with this they must have moved by Sunday.
Post 5 September
The Police have issued Code of Conduct notices.
Although the Travellers moved the concrete block we are advised by the police that no damage has been caused.
The SBDC Traveller’s Liaison Officer dealing with the case has advised that he is assured the Travellers will be leaving on Wednesday 7th September. They are the same group who left on 20th May.
The Landowner is SBDC.
The Police Reference number is URN 351.Please use the non urgent number 101 if you call with reference to this event.
PCSO Angela O’Connell will be attending the next council meeting on September 13th.