Traveller Sites


The Council has duties and responsibilities to balance the rights of Gypsies and Travellers and people affected by unauthorised camping.


Gypsies and Travellers are protected from discrimination by the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

This page sets out how the Council and other official agencies will work to protect the rights of all those involved.


Why do Gypsies and Travellers pursue a travelling lifestyle?

This has been the way of life for travelling people for many generations. Families move around the country for work or social reasons. The Council accepts that this is a legitimate way of life.

Does the Council have a duty to move Gypsies and Travellers when they are camped without the landowner's permission?

No. If Gypsies or Travellers are camped on Council land, the Council can evict them.

If they are on private land, it is usually the landowner's responsibility.  If Gypsies or Travellers are not causing a problem, the site may be tolerated. When deciding what if any action to take against unauthorised encampments, the Council has agreed to abide by the principles contained in the Cumbria Joint Agency Protocol for Responding to Unauthorised Encampments. A copy of this document can be downloaded here.

If Gypsies or Travellers camp on private land, what can the landowner do?


  • talk to them to see if a leaving date can be agreed.
  • take proceedings in the County Court under the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 to obtain a Court Order for their eviction. 


What if the landowner decides to let them stay on the land temporarily?

Unless the landowner has already obtained planning permission for a caravan site or is a farmer and the Gypsies or Travellers are helping with fruit picking etc., then the landowner could be in breach of the Planning Acts and the Acts dealing with the licensing of caravan sites.  You may wish to seek further advice from the Council Environmental Health section (address in page footer), who deal with illegal encampments.

If the landowner fails to remove the Gypsies or Travellers, what will the Council do?

If the landowner is in breach of any planning or licence requirements, then the Council may take proceedings against the landowner to require removal of the illegal encampment.

Gypsies or Travellers are camping on the side of the road or other Council-owned land; what can the Council do in these cases?

If the Gypsies or Travellers are causing problems they will be moved on as soon as is possible and reasonable.  The Council will consider each case using the criteria set out in the Cumbria Joint Agency Protocol for Responding to Unauthorised Encampments.  In all cases the site is visited and every effort made to make sure that the Gypsies or Travellers keep the site tidy and do not cause public health problems.  This sometimes means that refuse collection or other facilities may be provided.

Can the Council remove Gypsies or Travellers from their land immediately?

No, the Council must:

  • show that the Gypsies or Travellers are on the land without consent;
  • make enquiries about general health, welfare and children's education;
  • ensure that the Human Rights Acts 1998 has been fully complied with;
  • follow a set procedure to prove ownership of land and details of the illegal encampment that will enable them to
  • successfully obtain an order from the Courts to order the Gypsies or Travellers to leave the site.


How long will it take for the Gypsies or Travellers to be removed?

This will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case.  The Council will need to take account of the issues outlined above as well as how soon they can obtain a Court hearing date.

Can the Court refuse to order the Gypsies or Travellers to move on?

Yes.  If there is an unavoidable reason for the Gypsies/Travellers to stay on the site, or if the Court believes that the Council have failed to make adequate enquiries about the general health and welfare of the Gypsies or Travellers.  The Council must try to find out this information before going to Court.

What can the Police do?

The Police will visit all sites reported to them (Barrow Police - Tel 101 for non-emergency queries).

 The duty of the Police is to preserve the peace and prevent crime.  Trespass on land by itself is not a criminal offence. Prevention of Trespass and the removal of trespassers are the responsibilities of the landowner and not the Police.  The Police will investigate all criminal and Public Order offences.

 Sometimes the police may use powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.  These powers will only be used in situations of serious criminality or public disorder which cannot be addressed by normal criminal legislation and where trespass on the land is a relevant factor.

The Police are bound by the Human Rights Act and may be unable to use section 61 in certain circumstances.


Do we have to provide sites?

 The Council has a duty to assess the housing needs of Gypsies and Travellers from time to time. We will use these assessments to plan for the provision of additional sites. The Council carried out a joint assessment of needs with the other Cumbria districts during 2013. This did not identify a substantial additional need for sites. A copy of the report can be downloaded here.