Travellers forced to quit Wandsworth Common within hours

Published: 23 April 2015

A group of travellers who drove caravans onto Wandsworth Common yesterday (Wednesday) in a bid to set up an unlawful camp, were moved on within only a few hours after legal warnings from Wandsworth Council.

Three caravans appeared on the common near the junction of Trinity Road and Earlsfield Road yesterday afternoon at about 3pm.

Although the caravans were parked on the grass the owners and their vehicles were nowhere to be seen.

They eventually returned to the common at around 9pm last night along with more caravans and other assorted vehicles. 

But before these new arrivals could drive onto the common and join the camp officers from the Wandsworth parks police, who had been waiting for their return, intervened, warning them that they would be committing an offence and would be prosecuted and that their vehicles and caravans would be towed away. 

Faced with this legal warning the entire group departed and by 9.15pm the common was free of all vehicles and caravans.

Camping overnight on the common without prior authorisation from the council, is a criminal offence under Wandsworth’s parks and open spaces byelaws. As well as prosecuting those who breach the byelaws, the council has powers to physically remove any person, and their belongings, including vehicles, if they do not comply.

Insp Steve Biggs of the parks police service said: “This was a very good outcome. We were able to nip this particular problem in the bud and ensure that the common remains free of unauthorised vehicles and people setting up unlawful camps. 

“We made sure that we were able to prevent other vehicles and caravans from joining this group and ensure the quick departure of those who had arrived in the middle of the afternoon.”

Residents who witness any incident involving travellers on council-owned land should contact the town hall's emergency response team on (020) 8871 6900. This is a 24 hour service. Occupations of other land should be reported immediately to the police.

The council provides an approved travellers site in Trewint Street, Earlsfield.