Council seeking High Court protective injunction to prevent illegal encampments

Following the unprecedented number of unauthorised and illegal encampments across South West London and Surrey recently, we are working with neighbouring councils to seek a High Court injunction.

A High Court injunction will allow us to take action more quickly. It’s important we act lawfully in our handling of evictions and the current legal framework is very prescriptive about the processes we need to follow. This includes welfare checks of those on site, application to the High Court for the relevant court order, and giving the opportunity for the travelling community to leave of their own accord.

Leader of Kingston Council, Councillor Liz Green, said:

“Each time an encampment moves we have to start the process all over again, which is frustrating for all concerned. Our aim is to respond proactively to the concerns of local residents and reduce the negative impact of unauthorised encampments upon the local community, including managing the cost of cleaning the site afterwards. We are therefore discussing with our lawyers whether we have legal grounds for an injunction.

“This will be similar to that gained by Croydon Council recently and will cover all our open spaces and other specific sites such as our car parks and leisure centres. Should we have grounds, we will apply for this injunction as soon as possible. This will allow us to act faster with help from our police colleagues. We will still be required by law to undertake welfare checks, but the time currently taken in seeking a court order would be significantly reduced.”

The council will continue to review and improve the physical barriers already in place to increase the security of the borough’s parks and open spaces, whilst at the same time ensuring residents and visitors can still enjoy them. In the last illegal incursion substantial locks were broken, so these measures cannot stop every encampment. We are therefore looking to work with our neighbouring authorities to seek longer term solutions to this problem.

We urge residents to contact the police if they suspect or witness any criminal activity connected with these encampments. Please call 101, or 999 in an emergency, if you suspect a crime is taking place. We will continue to enforce against unlawful activity and behaviour wherever we can and seek the assistance of the Metropolitan Police by using their greater powers.