Council officers have started the eviction of a group of travellers from a former pub site in Chorley but the process is fraught with difficulties.
Local authorities can evict gypsy and traveller encampments from council-owned land but it is usually the responsibility of the owner if the land is private.
Many people ask why councils and police can't simply evict travellers as soon as they arrive on public open space however there are a number considerations which the authorities must consider beforehand.
What do council have to do to evict travellers?
Gypsies and travellers are protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act 2000, along with all other ethnic groups.
The authorities must show that the group is occupying the land without the owners consent.
Once that is established, a legal order must be obtained.
Do councils have a duty to remove travellers from private land?
Strictly speaking, no. However, council will often act in conjunction with owners if they receive reports of illegal encampments.
How long will it take to remove travellers camped illegally?
This depends entirely on the individual circumstances. Councils must establish that the group is on the land without consent.
They must also ensure that the Human Rights Act 1998 is being fully complied with.
After that there is a set procedure, which involves proving ownership, serving notices and obtaining a court order to evict the travellers from the site.
Once an order has been obtained, bailiffs will serve the group with an eviction notice giving them a set time to vacate the land.
Why can't the police evict travellers?
Travellers based on council and private land is treated as a civil matter so the police will only take action if serious criminal activity or public disorder is taking place.
What should private land owners do?
If Travellers are on private land, it is usually the landowner's responsibility to take the necessary action to evict them.
However, Shelter England, the homelessness charity, says there are set ways in which landowners can evict.
A spokesman said landlands who want to evict travellers can, apply to the court for an injunction or possession order or ask the council to take action.
Travellers can also be evicted by the council if the landowner doesn’t have planning permission to use the site for caravans, the Shelter spokesman added.