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Unauthorised encampments

We recognise and accepts the rights of gypsies and travellers, together with all ethnic groups who have a particular culture, language or values.

Our objective is to manage all unauthorised encampments on council land with consideration, recognising the need to balance the rights of the campers with the rights of the community to enjoy open spaces.

Report an unauthorised encampment

If you have seen or have a problem with an unauthorised encampment, you can report it to us.

Email: environmental.health@woking.gov.uk
Phone: 01483 755 855

Encampments on council land

If gypsies and travellers are camped on council land without consent, we can recover possession of the land by using a County Court Order. How long this will take depends each individual case. 

If they are causing problems we will try to move them on as soon as is possible and reasonable. 

Our first step is to visit the site to make sure every effort is being made to keep it tidy and check there are no potential public health or welfare problems.

Encampments on private land

Encamping on someone's land without their consent is unlawful and in certain circumstances, it is not just a breach of civil law, but also criminal law. 

If an unauthorised encampment moves on to private land, we can advise the landowner on what action to take. They can:

  • attempt to agree a leaving date with an encampment representative
  • obtain a Court Order to evict them.

Authorised sites

Surrey County Council  manages a site for traveller families at:

  • Hatchingtan
  • Burdenshott Road
  • Worplesdon.

View full list of gypsy and traveller sites in Surrey

The role of the police

Most gypsies and travellers are law-abiding citizens. The police will deal with crime committed by gypsies and travellers when there is a complaint and evidence to support it, just as they would when committed by anyone else.

The police can act to require gypsies and travellers to leave when they are satisfied that two or more people are trespassing on the land, and the landowner has taken reasonable steps to make them leave (and they have failed to do so). 

One of the following also has to apply:

  • Damage has been caused to the land or property.
  • Threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour has been used against the occupier, their family or agent.
  • The trespassers have six or more vehicles.

Any enforcement action requires considerable resourcing and sufficient police officers available, which may take time to arrange.