Conservative PCC Candidate Festus Akinbusoye welcomes new Criminal Justice Bill

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to announce new legislation that will make it a criminal offence to intentionally set up a camp or trespass on private land. The Conservative PCC Candidate welcomes this.

The legislation will give police the power to fine those who break the law up to £2,500 and lays out the possibility of a three-month prison sentence.

Currently, landowners face legal battles and court costs to evict travellers from their sites because trespass is only a civil offence.

Festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire’s Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate welcomed the news, saying, “There’s been a long-standing review into how to deal with the issue of illegal encampments and trespassing in England and Wales. This is a matter of real concern here in Bedfordshire,” he said.

“We’re now coming in line with the Republic of Ireland, which introduced the same law back in 2002. This is the fulfilment of a manifesto commitment and I’m fully behind the government's strong action,” he added.

Asked if this would make it a crime for a rambler who strays even slightly from the path, Festus responded, “The right to roam is protected. Rambling also does not qualify as settling on the land.”

The new Criminal Justice Bill will authorise the police to take enforcement action against two illegally parked vehicles. The current number is six. And police action can also be taken to prevent any damage, disruption or distress to landowners. 

The law adds that police enforcement will be limited to anyone over 18 who fails to vacate a private property when asked to do so by the landowner or police. Those found to be illegally occupying the property will also be barred from returning for at least twelve months. 

It is estimated that there are 23,000 traveller caravans in England with 3,200 parked on unauthorised sites. Permanent locations are often overcrowded with caravans exceeding the number approved by the local authority. 

PCC Candidate Festus Akinbusoye commented, “"Law-abiding residents and businesses in Bedfordshire have the right to peaceful enjoyment and protection of their property. This is absolutely the right thing for the government to do.

"If elected as Bedfordshire's next Police and Crime Commissioner, I will fully support our police force and local authorities to clamp down on this unlawful activity. I will also do everything possible to work closely with our three local authorities and Town Councils to provide appropriate transit sites and monitor the permanent pitches. But I make no apology in putting on record that under my leadership, we will never turn a blind eye to illegal trespass on private property.

  • 134,929 signed a petition (now closed) protesting about the Government's intention to criminalise trespass. Parliament has yet to decide if will debate this petition. More ... 
This election is postponed from 2020. These are the 5 candidates: