Unauthorised encampments

If people, such as gypsies or travellers, camp on ground they do not own or have permission to camp on, this is called an unauthorised encampment.

Report an unauthorised encampment

If you see travellers trying to get on to public land, you need to report it to us as soon as possible.

You can contact us on 01279 446655 during normal office hours or 01279 446666 out of hours.

You can also call the police on 101 if it is not an emergency or, if you witness someone forcing entry onto land, call 999.


There was an injunction in place until June 2020, which banned travellers from setting up unauthorised encampments in the Harlow District.

Application to vary 2017 injunction

We applied to vary the injunction (of Mr Justice Day) dated 14 June 2017. The existing town-wide injunction was extended by the court until 14 July 2020.

2017 injunction documents

The injunction bans 40 named persons from setting up unauthorised encampments on any land in Harlow.

It also protects 322 vulnerable sites across Harlow including parks and playgrounds, business areas, highway verges, schools, cycle tracks and previously occupied sites.

Breaching the injunction is a serious offence and could lead to a custodial sentence.

An interim injunction was first granted in March 2015, banning 35 named travellers and protecting 320 vulnerable sites.

The interim injunction was made a final injunction in December 2015, banning 35 named travellers and protecting 321 vulnerable sites. The injunction was set to be in place for 18 months until June 2017.

In June 2017 the injunction was extended for 3 more years until June 2020. The injunction now bans 40 named persons and protects 322 vulnerable sites.

The current injunction expires at midnight on 14 June 2020

How we deal with unauthorised encampments

Once we become aware of an unauthorised encampment on council land covered by the injunction, we will visit as soon as possible with the Police.

If the travellers are persons named in the injunction order, they have to leave straight away. If they do not, we can apply for committal proceedings to the high court.

If the travellers are unknown persons, they have 24 hours to leave. If they do not leave within this time, we can apply for committal proceedings to the high court.

The court will decide whether the persons who breached the order should be imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized.

If they fail to turn up at court, a warrant for their arrest can be issued by the court.

If there is an unauthorised encampment on council land which is not covered by the injunction, we have to go through a longer process to apply to the county court for an order to evict the travellers.

We work closely with both the police and Essex County Council to tackle unauthorised encampments.

You can read more about how Essex County Council deal with unauthorised encampments on their website

You can read more about the police’s powers in the Association of Chief Police Officers guidance (pdf)

Authorised encampments

There are 2 permanent authorised encampments in Harlow.

  • Fernhill
  • Flex Meadow

Both of the sites are managed by Essex County Council. You can find more information on these sites on the Essex County Council website