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Unauthorised Encampments on Council Land
It is jointly agreed that the Local Authority will be the lead agency where there are unauthorised encampments on council owned land and, in most circumstances, the Local Authority will use their powers as a first option. The Police will however, retain primacy in appropriate circumstances.
West Midlands Police will take active steps to identify illegal encampments. Reports and evidence of such within the City will be made to the Unauthorised Encampments Team of Birmingham City Council. Close liaison will be maintained with the Local Authority to which support and assistance will be provided. All reports received by the Local Authority and West Midlands Police will be properly logged.
Notification of new encampments, passed to the Local Authority before 4.00pm on a working day, will result in a visit to the site on the same day by an officer of the Unauthorised Encampments Team. Reports made after 4.00pm will result in a site visit on the following working day. The Unauthorised Encampments team officer will provide regular information to the Force Intelligence Bureau of West Midlands Police for dissemination to the Operational Command Unit (OCU) concerned.
The Unauthorised Encampments team officer will serve a common law notice of eviction on all those parked on council owned land in which it will state that the land is to be vacated within seven days. The officer will also serve a copy of the Local Authority code of conduct by which those occupying the site will be expected to regulate their behaviour whilst occupying that site.
The officer will make enquiries of those occupying the site relating to education, health, housing and social needs and, where applicable, will notify appropriate departments. Where a special humanitarian or welfare issue is identified this will be notified to the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) for dissemination to the local OCU. The Local Authority will report details to the FIB using a site report form.
If the land has not been vacated at the elapse of the seven days, the Unauthorised Encampments team officer may instruct bailiffs to remove those occupying the land, generally with effect from the next working day. On the specified day of eviction Police assistance may be requested to prevent a breach of the peace.
If the Unauthorised Encampments officer is aware (by previous dealings with the persons concerned or through intelligence) that it is the intention of an individual or individuals not to comply with the common law notice, then the officer may refer the matter directly to the Court for the issue of a Possession Order. The grounds for such a referral may include:
- previous history or experience of the individual(s) concerned,
- the individual(s) makes legal representation through a Solicitor,
- the individual(s) refusal to leave the land peacefully.
Where a group returns to land that they have previously occupied in the last six years and they have been subject to Court action by Birmingham City Council, then the Local Authority will apply to the Court for an Order of Restitution to obtain repossession of the land. This procedure has normally taken in the region of five days. It is necessary to satisfy the Court that there is a link/connection between the original group and the group now occupying the land.
On the initial visit to all encampment sites, the Local Authority may enquire into the welfare needs of those involved. The information will be reviewed from time to time throughout the proceedings.