An unauthorised encampment in a Petersfield town centre car park has been moved on by police working in partnership with East Hampshire District Council.

The encampment, in a car park near Rams Walk, was reported last Friday. After reviewing the encampment with council colleagues, police utilised Section 61 powers to order the culprits to vacate the site on Sunday.

Under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, police have the power to direct individuals to leave the land and remove any vehicles or property they have with them. Failure to comply is a criminal offence.

These powers can be considered in the following circumstances:

  • Communities are deprived of local amenities; or significant impact on the environment
  • There is local disruption to the economy
  • There is other significant disruption to the local community or environment
  • There is a danger to life where there is a need to take preventative action.

Antony Botten, East Hampshire Inspector, said: “Hampshire Constabulary will always ensure that we balance the needs and rights of all our communities with actions that are proportionate, lawful and necessary.

“We work closely with landowners and our partners to ensure that a robust approach is taken against unauthorised encampments within legal parameters.

“Our partnership work also seeks to identify repeat locations where there has been criminality or disorder in order to target harden these sites.”

It came just days after police again moved swiftly over the previous weekend to evict travellers in motorhomes parked in the central car park.

It can take up to seven days to move travellers on if a court order is applied for.

But the motorhomes were moved on in less that two days when police again invoked Section 61 powers after reports of fights,  shop lifting, abuse and other anti social incidents.

The decisive and swift action came after questions were asked over the police response to travellers illegally camped in a field of Paddock Way a fortnight earlier.

In the field was a play area and while the travellers were there it was torched causing £20,000 of damage.

Petersfield Town Council wrote to Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner about the incident.

The commissioner, Donna Jones, said the decision to use Section 61 powers was an operational one that would allow officers to take action where needed.