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Gypsies and Travellers

Volume 707: debated on Friday 6 February 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the particular responsibilities of local authorities in conducting evictions of elderly Gypsies and Travellers from unauthorised encampments. [HL1167]

Advice on local authorities' responsibilities when taking enforcement action against Gypsies and Travellers is set out in our Guide to the Effective Use of Enforcement Powers. Part 1 states that local authorities have an obligation to carry out welfare assessments on unauthorised campers to identify any welfare issues that need to be addressed before taking enforcement action against them. Part 2 states that taking “default” enforcement action, under Section 178 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, can be extremely traumatic for vulnerable residents in a site such as the elderly and that careful thought needs to be given to ensuring that action taken to restore a site to its original state is proportionate and considered. Guidance on Managing Unauthorised Camping states that, where bailiffs or other agencies and contractors are employed to take such enforcement action, a code of expected behaviour should be drawn up. This code must recognise that private bodies have a local authority’s human rights and race relations responsibilities while acting as its agent.