Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) has called a high court decision ending the blanket use of injunctions against unauthorised camps “incredibly frustrating”.

Following a high court hearing in January, a decision was handed down on Wednesday, May 12 by Judge Nicklin at the High Court in London, ruling that these injunctions against ‘persons unknown’ were illegal, and that the power of arrest was also likely to be ended in these cases. Enforcement against named individuals remains unaffected.

The leader of TVBC, Councillor Phil North, said: “Our interim injunction and attached power of arrest granted by Judge Bird has worked extremely well in deterring unauthorised encampments, while giving the police the means to take robust and immediate action when incursions do occur.

“Unfortunately, following a recent judgement in the case of London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and Other Local Authorities, another judge, Judge Nicklin, has now expressed his desire to dismiss all final injunctions and remove the power of arrest from all local authorities with injunctions in place to act against unnamed individuals. It looks likely that this will come into effect from this coming Monday.

“Our interim injunction and power of arrest against named individuals remains in force and will continue to be so after Monday, though we have to bring our interim injunction to final hearing. Those named include the individuals responsible for very many of the unlawful encampments and associated nuisances which justified our original order. However, it’s incredibly frustrating that the order has muddied the waters considering the unequivocal judgement previously made that our action against named and unnamed persons was more than justified.

“We are, therefore, liaising with other local authorities and taking our own legal advice about opportunities to appeal. In the meantime, I give my full support to the specific elements of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill currently going through Parliament, which seeks to make trespass with a vehicle a criminal offence and will give the police the powers to seize vehicles if individuals or groups of individuals do not comply.

“It’s important to mention that our negotiated stopping policy enables travellers to pass through Test Valley. If they are prepared to play by the rules, do not fly-tip, leave human waste or cause criminal or anti-social behaviour then we are prepared to allow sensibly sized encampments on appropriate council owned land that is not near residential areas, but that must be agreed with us beforehand.”