Published: Friday, 16th February 2018

Swift joint action by Council and police officers forced travellers to quickly leave two sites in the Royal Borough.

Successful action was taken against travellers who set up illegal encampments on privately owned sites on Grand Depot Road in Woolwich and by Victoria House on Shooters Hill Road.

Greenwich Police and Royal Borough of Greenwich enforcement officers swarmed onto the site in Woolwich Town Centre less than two hours after police used their powers, under the Criminal Justice and Public order Act 1994, to order the group to leave.

Members of the Council's Enviro-crime team managed to seize a vehicle suspected of being used for fly-tipping. The 35-strong group, with around 10 caravans and other vehicles, arrived on the site at 8pm on Sunday night and were quickly forced to leave by noon on Tuesday. Landowner Meyer Homes who are creating a housing scheme on the land have confirmed there is now to be a permanent security presence at the site.

A group of travellers, with around 13 caravans and extra vehicles, vacated the site at Shooters Hill Road on Monday after being warned the police power to evict them on grounds of suspected criminal activity would be used. Unfortunately the group, which arrived on Saturday evening, heavily fly-tipped the land which is next door to Greenwich Free School. Owners Property Serve UK have now locked the site and have been advised by the Council to consider additional security measures.

Unlawful encampments

The Royal Borough of Greenwich takes a strong stance on unlawful encampments and have secured a three month injunction on its 203 parks and open spaces which is in force until March. It is hoped that this will be extended at this point by a further three years.

Under the injunction, secured in the High Court, anyone who sets up a camp on any of these sites without permission will be committing contempt of court and will face arrest, possible confiscation of assets or imprisonment. Notices of the injunction have been posted at the entrances of parks and open spaces and as yet there have been no breaches.

'Illegal encampments will not be tolerated'

Councillor Jackie Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment, said: "The Royal Borough takes a zero tolerance approach to all illegal encampments which is why our officers pushed strongly for the police powers to be used.

"Fly-tipping can be a major blight on our neighbourhoods and so I am really proud that our enforcement officers managed to gain access to the site in Grand Depot Road to identify suspected involvement in illegal waste dumping. This enabled police action to be taken and the travellers were given two hours to comply before officers from Greenwich police, the Council along with the bailiffs moved in.

"This excellent partnership work to move on travellers quickly shows what can be achieved if the Council, police and bailiffs all work together. We hope it sends out a strong message to travellers that illegal encampments will not be tolerated in the Royal Borough.

"Residents and businesses share our concerns over the damage to public spaces, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour from these camps which have required the Council to carry out costly clean-up operations amounting to thousands of pounds."

'Important that instances are dealt with robustly'

Borough Commander Chief Superintendent Simon Dobinson said: "Greenwich Police will always work closely with our colleagues at the Royal Borough of Greenwich and the private sector where the threshold for using police powers is met. It is important that any instances of fly tipping, crime or anti-social behaviour are dealt with robustly in partnership as this has a significant impact on our residents."