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Managing Unauthorised Encampments

A Joint Policy of West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police first agreed a joint policy in relation to the management of unauthorised encampments in 2000. The policy document encapsulated the procedure to be adopted by both agencies and set in place arrangements for formally reviewing the policy each year so as to ensure that it remains current and reflects relevant changes in legislation and national policy.

The joint policy was created in the belief that those who are camped on unauthorised sites, who cause nuisance or indulge in anti-social or criminal behaviour, should be subject to the force of law in the same manner as those from the settled community who behave in such a manner. Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police both recognise the role that each has to play and will comply with Guidance on Managing Unauthorised Camping published by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Enforcement of the law involves a significant degree of discretion as well as tolerance. Previous Government circulars have advised local authorities to tolerate short term encampments; in some areas this was interpreted as allowing all forms of unauthorised camping, regardless of the amount of criminal and anti-social activity. This was never the intention and there is a clear distinction between unauthorised camping where there are no problems and those encampments that give rise to unacceptable behaviour and criminal activity.

In the absence of specific welfare needs the major consideration must always be the degree to which any encampment is interfering with the lawful rights of others. All breaches of the law should be investigated by the police.

The degree of anti-social behaviour usually associated with Illegal encampments requires West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council to work together in order to achieve an appropriate and effective resolution within the framework of this jointly agreed policy.

A copy of the most recent joint protocol between Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police on Managing Unauthorised Encampments is attached below for information.