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 5: Roles and Responsibilities

67. This chapter sets out the key roles and responsibilities for those involved with unauthorised sites.


68. When living on an unauthorised site, or choosing the location for one, there are responsibilities that we expect Gypsy/Travellers to meet. These are:

  • not setting up an unauthorised site on locations that are unsuitable. This can be because of traffic hazards, public health risks, or environmental damage. (Please see paragraph 32 for a list of the locations that are unsuitable);
  • treating the land that they are occupying with respect. (Please see paragraph 33 for further details);
  • co‑operating with the local authority when arriving in an area by considering making first contact, thereby helping the local authority to assess and meet their needs.

The Local Authority

69. The management of unauthorised Gypsy/Travellers sites on public land is a matter for the local authority in whose area the unauthorised camp is established. This includes:

  • decisions on the management of a site;
  • making an initial assessment of needs and informing relevant agencies ( e.g. education, health);
  • considering the safety and security of those living on an unauthorised site;
  • communicating with the Gypsy/Travellers living on the site, and the settled community around a site;
  • any consideration of legal action to reclaim the land the unauthorised site is on.

70. If the unauthorised site is on private land the local authority retains responsibility for monitoring the camp; making agencies aware of any needs; and liaising with the landowner. However, it will be for the landowner to decide what legal action, if any, to take to reclaim the land.

Police Scotland

71. The role of the Police in or around an unauthorised site is to ensure that public order and wider community safety issues are addressed and, at the same time, to work with local authorities and other agencies to meet the needs of all communities.

72. The police will investigate any allegations of criminal offences and anti‑social behaviour on or around a site in line with their normal procedures. That includes both offences those living on a site are alleged to have committed, and offences committed against Gypsy/Travellers living on a site.

73. If the police are requested to do so they will support local authority officers, landowners or their representatives by visiting unauthorised sites with them whilst they serve eviction notices, or similar. This is to ensure there are no public order issues. The police will not play any active part in the service of any papers or the eviction process itself unless instructed by the court or where a crime is being committed.

Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS)

74. COPFS are responsible for taking decisions on prosecution, based on the evidence available and the individual circumstances of the case. That includes decisions to prosecute for alleged offences committed on or around an unauthorised site.

Scottish Government

75. The Scottish Government's role is to set a general approach to management of unauthorised sites by local authorities, a role which this guidance helps to fulfil. The Scottish Government is not directly involved in the management of unauthorised sites.


Email: Ged Millar

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