High Court to decide on Havering's application for an injunction against illegal Traveller camps
PUBLISHED: 10:00 11 September 2019
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A High Court Judge will today announce whether Havering's application for an injunction against illegal Traveller camps in the borough will be granted.
Havering Council has applied for a borough-wide injunction against unauthorised encampments.
The interim injunction will be decided on by a High Court judge today at 2pm.
Havering has recorded an increasing number of unlawful camps that have often led to fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage and violent behaviour.
Council officers identified 260 vulnerable sites across the borough including parks and opening spaces, and they deployed nearly 600 injunction notices to ensure that the ban would be legally enforceable for the next three years.
An application was also made for injunctions against 105 named individuals who are known to frequent the borough and cause anti-social behaviour.
At a crime and disorder sub-committee meeting in Havering's town hall on Tuesday, September 10, Robert Harper, Havering's interim enforcement group manager, updated councillors on the progress of the case.
He said: "Every time we get these illegal incursions it creates an awful lot of disruption and turmoil within our communities and an awful lot of work for our officers.
"We presented [in court] on behalf of the borough, evidence going back two or three years.
"Over the last two months we had a seven week period in July and August where we suffered 14 unlawful encampments with quite a few of them in the Harold Hill area.
"They exploited the current situation and just hopped from one spot to another."
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Mr Harper noted that there are different types of encampments with some of them linked to organised fly-tipping that can lead to "serious damage" for the environment and cost hundreds of thousands pounds for the authority to clear.
"The injunction will allow officers to serve them a notice to leave within a couple of hours," said Mr Harper.
"Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge already have these injunctions in place."
Havering's application to the court was delayed when it was revealed that Bromley Council's application for an injunction had failed.
As a result of a legal challenge from the campaign group London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT), the judge refused to grant the injunction and instead made a more limited injunction preventing people from fly-tipping.
Havering Council's application involved a lengthy process of posting 87 different documents for each of the 260 sites which amounts to more than 20,000 pieces of documentation.
If the order is granted the council will request for a power of arrest to be attached so that offenders can be sent to prison for breaching the ban.
Mr Harper told the councillors: "We would like to put on record our thanks to inspector Rob McElroy.
"Whenever there has been an opportunity for the police to step in they have been really robust about it and it has made a big difference.
"We're confident in the strength of our case."
The High Court judge adjourned the case on Tuesday, September 10 to 2pm today to consider the council's evidence.
Visit havering.gov.uk/encampmentinjunction to find out more.