In November 2019, The Home Office launched a consultation ‘Strengthening Police Powers to tackle unauthorised encampments’ to seek views on how they “should strengthen police powers”. They “looked at how they could criminalise trespass when setting up or residing on an unauthorised encampment and how we could amend the 1994 Act”. This followed a consultation in 2018 in which views were sought on the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised developments and encampments and was led by Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government (MHCLG) in partnership with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice.
The Government response to these consultations was published 8th March 2021, in which they outlined plans to introduce a new criminal offence of trespass with the intent to reside, and extend existing powers in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA), which was introduced by way of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSCB) published on 9th March 2021.
Part 4 of the PCSCB set out the details of the new offence, to be inserted into Part 5 of the CJPOA. The amendments are specifically to; Section 61 to broaden the types of harm that can be caught by the power to direct trespassers under that provision, to include damage, disruption and distress; Sections 61(4)(b), 62B(2) and 62(C) to increase the period in which trespassers directed away from the land under sections 61 and 62A must not return from 3 months to 12 months; Amend Section 61(9)(b) to enable police to direct trespassers with a common purpose of residing on land to leave land that forms part of a highway.