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Hampshire Constabulary continues to work closely alongside Fareham Borough Council to resolve the situation with travellers at Cams Alders recreation ground safely and peacefully.
Police have increased patrols in the area to monitor the situation several times each day and provide public reassurance. We'd like to thank council officials for their assistance in challenging circumstances.
This group of travellers is not causing any problems that justify the use of police powers at this time. These will be kept under review each day by assessing the impact on the community.
Fareham Borough Council aren't happy though, after the police asked for height restriction barriers to be removed at the field entrance so travellers could turn their caravans around and stop blocking a street. But 15 caravans drove in and are now refusing to move leaving the council to begin court action to evict them.
If there are any concerns relating to any disturbance or anti-social behaviour arising from the travellers occupying the ground, members of the public can contact the police by phoning 101. Mini-com users can call phone 01962 875000.
The primary duty of the police in dealing with travellers occupying land they do not own is to maintain public order and safety. We recognise the requirement to balance the legitimate rights and needs of the travelling community with those of the settled local community and seek to establish a workable approach to the issue.
Responsibility for the removal of unauthorised encampments lies with the landowner. Hampshire Constabulary will work together with landowners and partner agencies including local authorities to support this process.
We have a joint protocol to deal with traveller issues. This protocol recognises that responsibility for removal of unauthorised encampments on council land lies with the relevant local authority, which seeks to address this through the courts.
It is when and where the behaviour of an unauthorised encampment oversteps the threshold of criminality and associated nuisance behaviour, including causing significant damage to property, that it becomes appropriate for police to get involved.
We will then look at using our powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, in consultation and partnership with local authorities which have the responsibility for providing appropriate and alternative sites.
The circumstances under which we will consider use of Section 61 include:
* Significant nuisance or criminal behaviour? Unacceptable levels of damage to land or property to gain entry or remain? Danger to travellers from the chosen site, such as environmental health factors.
It is important to note that police cannot use powers under Section 62 of the act, because there are no transit sites in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to which police can direct travellers. These sites must be established by local authorities.
Use of police powers is not a quick, cheap and easy way of dealing with unauthorised encampments, which always see an increase during summer months.
We are continuing to work with local authorities to find sustainable long-term solutions, and not simply move the encampment on from one area to another.
The aim of the Constabulary is to treat all citizens in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight fairly and to recognise the need to ensure the legitimate rights and needs of both the travellers and the local settled community are observed. The human rights of local residents and landowners are as important as those of the travellers themselves.