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Gypsies/Travellers and Unauthorised Encampments

Information about unauthorised encampments and how to report one to us


  • How to report an illegal encampment
  • Can the ECTU move unauthorised encampments on immediately?
  • What can the Police do?
  • How is the rubbish left by unauthorised encampments dealt with?

The Essex Countywide Travellers Unit (ECTU) has responsibility for unauthorised encampments within the borough. 

If you become aware of an unauthorised encampment please contact: 

  • Essex County Council contact centre on 03457 430 430 Monday to Friday 8.30am - 6pm.
  • For out of hours contact for all on Saturday/Sunday/Bank Holidays: 03330321110this line is available 24 hours a day and will be monitored hourly 9 - 5 Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays

Or via the Essex County Council website Report Unauthorised Encampment

Can the ECTU move unauthorised encampments on immediately?

No, if the encampment is on Council land we are required to follow a legal process under Section 77 of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994. This process will take typically take between 7-10 days. 

What can the Police do?

Trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence. Prevention of trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibility of the landowner and not the police. 

The police will visit the unauthorised encampment and in certain circumstances may choose to use their emergency powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It is for the senior officer who visits the unauthorised encampment to decide what action should be taken. 

If an act of crime is in progress, customers should report the matter to the police by dialling 999. For all other enquiries regarding crime, or anti - social behaviour customers can report these to the police by dialling 101 

What about noise, rubbish, smoke or other nuisance, what should I do?

Please report these concerns to Colchester Borough Councils Customer Service Centre during office hours on 01206 282581.

How is the rubbish left by unauthorised encampments dealt with?

Unauthorised encampments on council land are regularly visited and every effort is made to try to keep the site tidy. The local waste authority will ensure that any waste is removed. 

Private landowners are responsible for the removal of waste from their land. 

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