Managing unauthorised camping by Gypsy/Travellers in Scotland: guidance for local authorities

Practical advice for local authorities on how to manage unauthorised camp sites.

Chapter 1: Introduction


1. The Scottish Government published guidance on managing unauthorised camping by Gypsy/Travellers in 2004. It was reviewed twice, and in 2014 the Government committed to a further review, resulting in this new edition.

2. In preparing this new edition there has been considerable engagement with stakeholders and Gypsy/Travellers across Scotland using a variety of means, including visits, meetings with relevant stakeholders and communities of interest, and discussions with local authorities and others. The guidance that follows reflects what we heard from our discussions with stakeholders, and the good practice that is currently being delivered around Scotland.

3. We expect local authorities to reassess their current approach to unauthorised sites in light of this guidance. We appreciate that some local authorities may only need to make minor changes to the approach they currently adopt, while others may wish to undertake a more full-scale review of how they respond to unauthorised sites. While this guidance is focussed on unauthorised sites by Gypsy/Travellers we recommend that local authorities put in place similar procedures to be followed for unauthorised camping by people who are not Gypsy/Travellers.


4. This guidance has been prepared to assist local authorities in Scotland to develop effective policies and strategies for responding to unauthorised sites. In managing unauthorised sites, the Scottish Government believes some basic principles should be followed:

  • local authorities should seek to manage unauthorised sites to minimise disruption for all concerned and ensure that any anti‑social behaviour is tackled firmly, regardless of who the perpetrators are.
  • the same standards of behaviour should be expected from all members of the community, whether Gypsy/Travellers or the settled community, based on mutual respect and with regard to the rights and responsibilities of all those concerned.

5. As traditional Gypsy/Traveller routes are changing local authorities that currently have few unauthorised sites may find that using the good practice in this guidance will help them plan in advance for future developments.

6. This guidance is not intended to cover situations where a site has been established by Gypsy/Travellers as a permanent home without planning permission (with, for example, construction of concrete pitches, brick walls, provision of utilities, etc.). This guidance does not address issues regarding non-compliance with planning requirements.


7. The Scottish Government uses the term "Gypsy/Traveller" for people in the Travelling communities, and that term is therefore used throughout this guidance.

8. This guidance uses the term "unauthorised site" to describe a site which has been established by Gypsy/Travellers without planning permission. Such sites will normally be in place for a number of days, but can sometimes be in place for longer.

9. Those outwith the Gypsy/Traveller community are referred to as the 'settled community' in this guidance. However it should be noted that some Gypsy/Travellers live permanently in one place (for example on a private site).


Email: Ged Millar

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