The NATIONAL Farmers Union is urging police to use the full extent of their powers to deal with illegal encampments on farmland.

The NFU warned that a consistent and co-ordinated approach across private and public land when dealing with illegal encampments is essential to prevent private landowners taking the full force of the problem.

Responding to a call for evidence by Housing Minister Dominic Raab on the impacts of illegal encampments, the NFU raised concerns about the impact of such encampments on farmers, after consulting with its members.

The NFU’s key points in its consultation response include police to use their existing powers effectively. They are currently unable or unwilling to put them into action

Also, a multi-agency approach between police, local authorities, bailiffs and landowners is needed, while stating a need for sufficient authorised sites so that police have places to move encampments onto.

NFU chief land management adviser Sam Durham said: “The impact that unauthorised encampments have on farm businesses cannot be understated. It is vital that farmers are able to go about their daily lives and business without feeling under threat.

“It is essential that any changes to legislation or guidelines do not leave farmland as a ‘soft target’. Otherwise the issue will be simply shifted to other areas rather than dealt with effectively.

“There must be sufficient authorised sites available across the country to ensure the issue of illegal encampments are manageable nationwide.”