Traveller Eviction from development site in Southampton

 

Trespassers on a development site in Southampton.

The Background

An unauthorised encampment had been set up on a development site in Southampton. The trespassers who were on the site tried to claim squatters rights.

They believed that they could claim squatter’s rights as they had secured the gate with a chain and lock. They claimed they had not used force to secure entry as the site was unlocked and empty when the trespassers had taken up residence.

The Problem

As the trespassers had secured the gate with a chain we could not do an immediate common law eviction as we would have then committed an offence. The Criminal Law Act 1977 states that:

  • People who threaten to use or actually use violence to gain entry, including violence to a chain, are guilty of an offence.

It is irrelevant whether you are securing the entry for yourself or anyone else, you may not force entry. This is the case if there is a person on the premises that has denied entry to the landowner or a bailiff, or even if the landowner or a bailiff knows that there is someone on the property that is opposed to their entering the property.

High Court Order

The solution for our client was to obtain an emergency order in the High Court, a Writ of Possession.

Once the enforcement agents were on site they tried to execute the writ. The trespassers became aggressive and violent. The enforcement agents assessed the situation and decided to withdraw until more support could be arranged.

Our team leader contacted the office to arrange additional support, and also requested support from the local police force under section 99 of the Courts Act 2007, Schedule 7.

  • The Act states any police officer should aid an enforcement officer or any person acting on their behalf whilst executing a writ when help is requested.

The police recognised the genuine concern of our enforcement agents. They sent 10 officers. Quality Bailiffs supplied a further 10 enforcement agents to the scene. The weight of numbers allowed us to gain access to one of the caravans. We started to tow the caravan off the property. The squatters then all decided that the game was up and they all started to pack up and leave.

When evicting trespassers our team were able to adapt to the circumstances of this particular case liaising with the police and colleagues to achieve the ultimate aim of securing the land for the owner.

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