Barriers to Nomad living and the UK Police Bill

a street of illegal vans that were removed in Feb 2023
This is legal in the UK – but police crackdown law is now before parliament

We know a lot of you have concerns and questions about the ways governments are stopping people from living off the grid.  Its a growing problem everywhere, and Covid legislation has made it worse.

In the United States its virtually illegal to live anywhere except a conventional house.  And in the UK, the new Police Bill currently going through parliament will bring in harsh laws against nomadic people. The proposal will impact everyone who is living, or wishes to live, nomadically – by culture, choice or necessity.
We are kicking off a write-in campaign to legislators, to bring together those of us who support the nomadic lifestyle to influence their legislators.  Below we share with you what has been stated in the UK legislation which is likely to become law by October 2021. At the end of this post is a template email you can send to legislators and your local police commissioners
Please share this post to inform everyone that could be affected in our community.
The 2021 Police Bill currently awaiting its committee stage in the commons will strengthen police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments that “significantly interfere with a person’s or community’s ability to make use of land.”  Imagine three camper vans parked on a street. Do they significantly interfere with ability to make use of that street?  That will leave everything to the judgement of local people who want to complain, and local police who have to enforce the law.

The proposed powers will come into effect when:

  • A person aged 18 or over resides or intends to reside on land without consent of the occupier of the land;
  • They have, or intend to have, at least one vehicle with them on the land;
  • They have caused or are likely to cause significant damage, disruption or distress;
  • Persons fail to leave the land and remove their property following a request to do so;
  • Persons enter or return to the land with an intention of residing there without the consent of the occupier of the land, and with an intention to have at least one vehicle with them, within 12 months of a request to leave.

This new offence will be punishable by a prison sentence of up to 3 months, or a fine of up to £2500, or both.

Take action by emailing your local representative (MPs or local Councillors). You can find them and write to them here
Enter your post code on the web page, and write to your MP, and your local councillors, asking them to oppose this bill. MPs can vote against it or amend it before it is passed as it is currently going through Parliament.  Local councils will need to decide what stance they want to take towards nomadic residents.
Local council budgets will be impacted if a van is seized and a family made legally homeless. They may then be responsible for the rehousing, Councils can provide facilities for those with nomadic lifestyles, like toilets and shower blocks.
Remember there are local elections coming up on May 6th – write NOW.
Write to your MP and local politicians here: https://www.writetothem.com/
Write to your local police commissioner here
THIS IS A TEMPLATE LETTER to go to local councils, MPs and police commissioners  – you can amend this in any way you want – for MPs, you would be asking them to vote against the Bill in the Commons 


Your name and adress goes here  – so they know you are a voter
 In considering whether to vote for you at the next election, I  am concerned that the current Police Bill will make it difficult or impossible to police people living in vans.  The new legislation says that such people will be asked to move if 
  • They have caused or are likely to cause significant damage, disruption or distress;

 But causing unnecessary distress to local residents is hard to define and the Bill says elsewhere that police action needs to be proportionate. This leaves too much to the discretion of individual officers and individual complainants, however sincere they may be in their beliefs.

Please can you tell me your intention regarding this Bill if it becomes law?  [Just for MPS replace the previous sentence with – Please can you confirm you will vote and campaign against this specific section of the Bill – whatever your views are on the rest of the Bill?] 
My vote in your forthcoming election will be based entirely on your answer to this question. I look forward to your reply in the near future.

2 Responses

  1. The issue you are talking about are traveller camps, not people just ‘living off the grid’. The traveller camps usually ruin the area they have occupied and quite often leave the local council with a huge bill for clearing up the area after them. Your story is misleading, the legislation being brought in by government is fair, it’s there to protect local people and their surrounding areas after years of councils having zero powers to move traveller on.

    1. Thanks Nick – I agree with what you say about the need to protect local people – but there is a very ambiguous line between “traveller camps” and groups of individuals living in vans. At this particular time, with thousands of young people fitting out vans for permanent living, and tens of thousands about to lose their furlough pay, and tens more thousands realising they can work from anywhere and don’t need an expensive flat in London or Manchester or Bristol, the Police Bill cold be enforced in a very heavy handed way. A few deft amendments will protect those vandwllers who are simply trying to get by, and strengthen the protection for local people who suffer from an influx of noise or crime. It is a question of attitude. We all agree that some groups of travellers cause trouble and leave a mess. The law should be there to protect local people from that. But many groups of vandwellers are actually very clean and quiet and do their utmost to protect the local environment. The law has to distinguish between the two groups.
      It is quite understandable if a group of vans suddenly appear on a piece of land, that locals fear the worst, but it may be their fears are unjustified, and a harmless group of environmentalists are turfed out without need or reason.

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