PCC welcomes first use of tough new powers on unauthorised traveller encampments

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has welcomed strong action taken by Sandwell Council and West Midlands Police after new powers to tackle unauthorised traveller encampments were used for the first time on Friday 23rd February.

Sandwell Council are the first council in the region to enact the Police and Crime Commissioner's recommendation of building a transit site for traveller encampments. In doing so, they have increased the powers available to the police to move on groups who do not use the designated site.

West Midlands Police, with Sandwell Council can now order unauthorised encampments to use the transit site. Those failing to comply can be escorted from the borough and are banned from returning for three months.

The PCC is hoping more local authorities follow Sandwell's lead after his successful summit on tackling unauthorised encampments last year.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said,

"We are tackling the issue of unauthorised traveller encampments head-on.

"Sandwell Council's decision to take up my recommendation and build a transit site is driving down the number of unauthorised encampments and giving police the powers to take action.

"Those breaking the law are now banned from the borough for three months. This tough action is what the public has been calling for."

Twelve caravans got onto Vaughan Trading Estate, Tipton, overnight on Friday 23 February. Council and police officers went to the privately-owned site and the encampment moved on within a few hours.

The caravans then relocated to private land at Ridgacre industrial estate, off Ridgacre Road, West Bromwich.

The council worked with the landowner and the police, who instructed the encampment to use the transit site in Smethwick - where rent and a deposit must be paid for each caravan - or leave the borough.

Because the encampment refused to move, police issued a Section 62 notice - which gives police powers to seize vehicles and caravans and make arrests - and the encampment then immediately left the borough.