Gypsies and Travellers in Three Rivers District

How we work to promote the welfare of the Gipsy and Traveller population while balancing the rights of landowners

Gypsies and Travellers comprise a wide variety of cultural and ethnic groups. As with all ethnic groups with a particular culture, language or values, the Gypsy and Traveller population is protected by race discrimination law under the Equality Act 2010.

The aim of this information is to set out how we work with other official agencies to promote the welfare of the Gypsy and Traveller population while balancing the rights of landowners.

Does the council have a duty to move Gypsies and Travellers if they are camped without the landowner's permission?

No. If Gypsies and Travellers are camped on council land, we can evict them. Encampments on private land are usually the landowner's responsibility. The government has advised that encampments may be tolerated if they are not causing a problem.

If Gypsies/Travellers camp on private land, what can the landowner do?

If there is a Gypsy/Traveller encampment on your land, we suggest you:

  • talk to them to see if a leaving date can be agreed
  • take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a Court Order for their eviction (Note: there must be a minimum of two clear days between service of documents and the Court hearing)
  • contact Hertfordshire County Council's Gypsy Section for assistance on 01707 897 367

Please note that unless you have obtained planning permission for a caravan site on your land or you are a farmer who is employing the Gypsies/Travellers to pick fruit pick or other work, you may be in breach of the planning laws and legislation dealing with the licensing of caravan sites. If you require advice, contact the Environmental Health department at We may take enforcement action against landowners to remove any illegal encampment.

I have seen Gypsy/Traveller encampments on the side of the road or in parks. What can the council do in these cases?

If the Gypsy/Traveller encampments are causing problems, they will be moved on as soon as is possible and reasonable. We will visit the site and advise the Gypsy/Traveller people of their responsibility to keep the site clean and tidy. We may provide refuse collection facilities for this purpose.

Can the council remove Gypsies/Travellers from council-owned land immediately?

No, we must first:

  • show that the Gypsies/Travellers are on the land without consent
  • make enquiries regarding their general health and welfare and their children's education
  • ensure full compliance with the Human Rights Act 1998
  • follow a set procedure in terms of proving ownership of land and details of the illegal encampment so we can obtain the necessary authority from the courts to order the Gypsies/Travellers to leave the site

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

Yes. A court may refuse to grant an order if there is an unavoidable reason for the Gypsies/Travellers to stay on the site or if the court believes we have failed to make adequate enquiries regarding the general health and welfare of the Gypsy and Traveller people.

What can the police do?

The police will visit all sites reported to them. In certain circumstances (for example, where the Gypsies/Travellers have six or more vehicles), officers may use powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. These powers are only used in situations of serious criminality or public disorder that cannot be addressed under normal criminal legislation.

The police are bound by the Human Rights Act 1998 and will not use section 61 if doing so would prevent the civil courts from applying welfare considerations. The duty of the police is to preserve the peace and prevent crime. Trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence. The police will investigate criminal and public order offences, but trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner.