Thames Valley Police has welcomed plans to change illegal encampment laws – which now gives the force powers to send trespassers to 'authorised' sites in a different area.

Police have previously had 'very limited' powers to order groups of travellers to move on when they set up camps on unauthorised land – prompting the government to review the laws.

Thames Valley Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner responded to the government’s consultation on the changes and say they are now 'pleased that the government has announced that there will be action to change the law'.

Just last week, a group of travellers that had set up on a football pitch in Abingdon refused to leave

Oxford Mail:

What will the changes mean?

The plans include increasing the length of time that trespassers are unable to return to a section of land once they have been moved on.

Police will also be permitted to direct travellers to authorised sides in neighbouring council areas and order them to leave land that forms part of a highway.

The number of vehicles needed to be classed as an illegal encampment has also been lowered from six or more to two or more, according to a report due to be presented by Thames Valley Police and Crime Panel on Friday.

How big a problem are traveller sites?

Oxfordshire has been dogged by problems caused by illegal traveller encampments in the last two years. 

Groups setting up at recreation grounds, playing fields and car parks across Oxfordshire last year cost the taxpayer more than £100,000 in clean-up and legal bills.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE - the true cost of traveller camps 

Oxford Mail:

Councils said that groups towing caravans took over public spaces no less than 60 times in 2018 – nearly double the 33 in 2017 – leaving a trail of waste behind.

The spike was largely down to one group with about 60 vehicles who ran rings around local authorities to take over council-owned sites at least 14 times.

This included several of Oxford's park-and-rides, with Thornhill, Water Eaton and Redbridge seeing multiple camps.

Remember last year's park-and-ride traveller merry-go-round? Recap here 

Reports from these incidents include damage caused to car parks, rubbish left strewn around and dogs and horses running loose near roads.