Time unauthorised encampments spend in Sandwell cut by 95%
Published 11th June 2018
A crackdown on unauthorised encampments in Sandwell has seen the time that travelling groups spend in the borough – and the cost of dealing with them - cut by 95%.
Sandwell Council has brought in a number of measures to discourage and move on groups who set up camp at the borough’s parks, open spaces and on business premises.
In 2016/17, travelling groups spent 577 days camped in Sandwell while the police and council used bailiffs and the court process to move them on.
In 2017/18, this was reduced to just 33 days.
And the cost of dealing with unauthorised encampments – particularly the fly-tipping and damage left in the aftermath – fell by 96% from £252,000 to just £10,000.
Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and investment Councillor Paul Moore said: “We’re doing a range of things to tackle the issue which, when you put them all together, have drastically reduced the problems we were having in Sandwell.
“We have the transit site in Smethwick, which means the police have the power to direct traveller groups to relocate there and pay rent and a deposit or leave the area.
"We’ve worked hard to secure our parks and green spaces to stop caravans getting on there in the first place.
“And we have a team of people who spring into action when we do have an encampment turn up.
“We’ve had huge success with the way we’re doing things in Sandwell and now other authorities across the Black Country and beyond are taking a lead from us on dealing with the issue.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: "The extra powers that police and the council now have are making a real difference.
"I would encourage other councils to work with local communities to expand the number of sites, so we can further reduce the number of unauthorised encampments. Sandwell Council has led the way on the issue and are now reaping the rewards. There are clear lessons to be learnt by other councils."
The council has also successfully extended an injunction banning the Cassidy family from setting up unauthorised encampments anywhere in Sandwell.
The Cassidys were originally banned from setting up unauthorised encampments in Sandwell last year. Last week, Sandwell Council’s legal team, anti-social behaviour team and West Midlands Police secured an extension to the original injunction.
Under the terms of the extended injunction, father John Cassidy is banned from all of Sandwell until June 2028. He is also forbidden from using or threatening violence, causing a nuisance or annoyance and removing any padlock, lock or bolt from anywhere in Sandwell.
The five-year extension applies to 13 other members of the Cassidy family and forbids them from setting up unauthorised encampments, dumping rubbish, damaging padlocks or entering the borough other than to drive through it until June 2023.
Also included in the injunction are restrictions on associates of the family (persons unknown) who are forbidden from setting up unauthorised encampments in Sandwell.
The Cassidy family were also ordered to pay costs of nearly £16,000.