Q56: People are trespassing on my land, what can I do?
Trespass to land in most instances is a civil wrong, and as such the police have no jurisdiction. Under common law, the landowner has a right to re-entry on the land. However, the ejection of the trespasser is fraught with danger for the landowner. Initially, the landowner should ask the occupier to leave the land and if he/she does then all is well. However, the problems start if he/she refuses to leave the land.
The owner of the land could commit several criminal offences if he forcibly removes the trespasser and his/her property from the land. The best and safest course of action is to obtain a court order, which if breached may then turn into a criminal matter.
If the police do attend an incident such as this, they are merely there as observers for any possible criminal offences committed by either party. The police cannot assist in the removal of the trespassers or their property from the land in question. The police do however have some removal powers against larger groups of occupiers.
Any damage done by a trespasser, or use of threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour towards the occupier, may amount to a criminal offence and should be reported to the police on 101.
Trespass is very complex and guidance should be sought from a solicitor where appropriate.