Thames Valley Police has welcomed plans to change illegal encampment laws – which now gives the force powers to send trespassers to 'authorised' sites in a different area.

What is the problem?

Police have previously had 'very limited' powers to order groups of travellers to move on when they set up camps on unauthorised land – prompting the government to review the laws.

Thames Valley Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner responded to the government’s consultation on the changes and say they are now 'pleased that the government has announced that there will be action to change the law'.

Reading Chronicle:

What will the changes mean?

The plans include increasing the length of time that trespassers are unable to return to a section of land once they have been moved on.

Police will also be permitted to direct travellers to authorised sides in neighbouring council areas and order them to leave land that forms part of a highway.

The number of vehicles needed to be classed as an illegal encampment has also been lowered from six or more to two or more, according to a report due to be presented by Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel on Friday.

How big a problem are traveller sites?

Late last year a group of travellers set up camp in a car park in Reading.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) brought proceedings to evict the travellers from the Cattle Market car park on Great Knollys Street.

There were around 16 caravans plus other vehicles at the council-owned car park.

And in June last year, councillors pleaded with travellers to move on after they settled on the Pangbourne meadows.

A group parked six caravans on Pangbourne Parish Council owned land on June 13 after a chain was cut on an external gate leading to the site. 

Pangbourne Parish Council feared it could be forced to pay nearly £8,000 in solicitors and bailiff fees if the travellers did not move on.