ESSEX Police has hit back at the leader of Thurrock Council after his criticism of their action over a traveller encampment in South Ockendon.
Councillor Rob Gledhill issued a statement on Tuesday evening.
An Essex Police spokesperson said: “We were called to reports of an unauthorised traveller encampment at a site in Daiglen Drive, South Ockendon at around 9.10pm on Monday, February 19.
Unauthorised traveller encampments are a civil matter of trespass and the landowner, whether they are a private landowner or a local council, have powers under common law to get an encampment to move off their land.
We attended to assess the site and worked with Thurrock Council to establish its ownership.
Once it was confirmed the land was owned by Thurrock Council at around 12.45pm on Tuesday, February 20, the authority directed the encampment to leave.
Following reports of fly-tipping at the site and rubbish being set alight, we prepared to issue a Section 61 Notice but the encampment had already left at around 5.20pm.
We liaised and worked with Thurrock Council at each and every step, providing assistance and resources where appropriate and possible.
In the time between getting the initial call about the encampment and the time the encampment moved off the site we had nearly 90 calls about incidents in the Thurrock district including missing people, collisions on the roads, and assaults.
“We always prioritise our resources to the incidents where there is the greatest risk of harm to members of the public and our communities wouldn’t expect anything less”.