Basildon Council leader calls for faster action as government consults on ‘Irish Option’ for a second time

The leader of Basildon Council has called for faster action after a second consultation was launched on measures to criminalise trespassing in relation to unauthorised encampments in England and Wales.

The consultation, which opened on November 5 and closes on March 4, 2020, refers to measures often referred to as ‘The Irish Option’, as it takes a lead from legislation in the Republic of Ireland.

Leader of Basildon Council, Councillor Gavin Callaghan, said: “We responded to the last consultation and we will of course respond again. This is an issue that has a massive impact on our borough. Unauthorised encampments weigh heavily on the public purse and cause a lot of stress and inconvenience to our residents.

“I am disappointed that we are having to do this again and that more progress hasn’t been made but acknowledge that this further round of consultation is still a step in the right direction. However, this has been pushed into the long grass.

“Basildon needs action, not more inaction. While we are working effectively with the police and our partners, we still don’t have all the powers we need to deal with unauthorised encampments as robustly and quickly as we would like and welcome a change in the law that could improve the lives of our residents.”

The government is also consulting on an alternative approaches including:

  • amending section 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to permit the police to direct trespassers to suitable authorised sites located in neighbouring local authority areas
  • amending sections 61 and 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to increase the period of time in which trespassers directed from land would be unable to return from 3 months to 12 months
  • amending section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to lower the number of vehicles needing to be involved in an unauthorised encampment before police powers can be exercised from six to two or more vehicles
  • amending section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to enable the police to remove trespassers from land that forms part of the highway.

For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/strengthening-police-powers-to-tackle-unauthorised-encampments

Mick Ferris

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