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

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

Annex A: Two Example Case Studies

These case studies set out two scenarios involving unauthorised sites, and how the local authority might respond. These are fictional and do not reflect any specific unauthorised site but are based on events that have occurred on unauthorised sites in the past.

Case Study 1: Small family group

This is a site with three caravans and accompanying cars.

Those living on the sites are one extended family, comprising a couple in their fifties (one of whom is in need of a dentist), two men in their twenties (who are their sons) together with their wives, and 5 teenagers and children, ranging in age from 4 to 13. There are also two dogs on the site.

The group is on its way to a family wedding, and plans to stop for three days. The site is on local authority land in a rural location.

Possible local authority action

Initial visit by local authority GTLO. During this visit unauthorised site code of conduct and other relevant information would be provided, along with health contacts in area. The families would be asked if they have any medical or dental concerns. Any educational requirements would be considered, but what would be offered depends on the time of year and length of stay. The families would be advised regarding their conduct whilst in the area - no littering or fly tipping, keeping dogs under control, etc.

All information from above visit would be shared with partner agencies, taking account of Data Protection requirements and good practice. If dental care is urgent the family member would be referred to a local dental practice. Request local authority waste disposal team visit for waste collection.

If the family only remained for three days there would be no need for a 7-day review meeting.

Case Study 2: Larger working group

This is a site with six caravans, four transit vans, six cars, two quad bikes, and a generator.

Those living on the site are one extended family of three brothers together with their wives and children. There are also several male workers (who are not family members) travelling as part of the group.

The group is travelling for economic reasons, and has no plans to move while there is work in the area. They have moved location within the same local authority area three times. Quad bikes are being used and have caused significant damage to the grass on the site, and there are also reports of anti-social behaviour on and around the site.

Possible local authority action

The local authority GTLO would make the initial visit to the site. As part of this any welfare needs of those on the site would be noted, including any educational needs. During this visit unauthorised site code of conduct and other relevant information would be provided. As the site involves a working party a local authority could choose to note the names of any businesses, so the local authority knew which businesses were operating from the site.

Appropriate agencies would be made aware of the site and the needs of residents. This would be for the local authority to decide, but might include internal services such as education and environmental health, and external bodies such as the NHS. The GTLO would discuss the issue with the Quad bikes and advise those living on the site that the damage is not acceptable. Photographs could be taken of the damage if appropriate, and the information passed to Police Scotland. The police should also be informed of the reports of anti-social behaviour, for them to investigate in line with their normal procedures.

The local authority would consider how best to manage the site. This could include consideration of:

  • the local authority continuing on-going management of the site;
  • asking those on the site to move to another location identified by the local authority;
  • recording any issues around the site raised by the local settled community, such as noise from the generator etc.;
  • if there are reports of offences being committed on or around a site (by Gypsy/Travellers or the settled community) Police Scotland should investigate these in line with their normal procedures;
  • commencing court action to reclaim possession of the location, if those on the site refuse to move to another location, on the basis that the site is causing damage to the land it is on.

GTLO, Police Scotland, Environmental Health and other agencies and bodies as necessary would do regular joint visits to the site while it is there to assess the site and meet those living on it, and discuss action that can be taken to alleviate any issues.


Email: Ged Millar

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