§ Sir John Wheeler
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he intends to take to tackle the problems caused by illegal raves and by mass trespass on land.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment today announced a package of proposals designed to tackle illegal camping as a consequence of his review of the Caravan Sites Act 1968.
The Government recognise that these measures alone will not be sufficient to deal with all types of illegal camping. Since the enactment of the Public Order Act 1986 there has been special provision for dealing with aggravated trespass: that is, trespass where, either because of the sheer numbers involved or because of the behaviour of trespassers, it is right that the police should have powers to intervene. Section 39 of the 1986 Act has worked well, but the Government believe that it can be made more effective. Therefore, we propose to apply section 39 to a wider range of circumstances, principally extending it to minor highways—including green lanes and byways open to all traffic—and reducing the number of vehicles required to trigger the powers from 12 to six.
We also propose to take additional measures to deal with the illegal large raves which made life so miserable for so many people last summer. We propose to provide new powers to enable the police, where they reasonably believe that 10 or more people have gathered on a site and that a rave will take place with the result that a local community 224W will suffer serious distress on account of music played during the night, to direct those people to leave. Failure to heed such a direction will be a criminal offence. In order that the police may enforce this effectively, we propose to provide them additionally with powers to turn back within a radius of five miles anyone they reasonably believe is intending to go to the rave site.
These measures are unusual, but the Government believe that they are justified in the light of the serious mischief they are seeking to prevent and that they will be welcomed by law-abiding citizens throughout the country.