West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has welcomed Sandwell’s tough action on unauthorised encampments, highlighting the partnership of West Midlands Police and Sandwell Council as setting an example nationally.
Sandwell Council, supported by West Midlands Police, has secured an injunction banning a travelling family from setting up unauthorised encampments anywhere in Sandwell.
Fourteen members of the Cassidy family were named in the injunction granted by His Honour Judge McKenna, sitting at the High Court of Justice in Birmingham last week (Tuesday 6 June).
The injunction also forbids anyone setting up an unauthorised encampment on 17 Sandwell Council-owned sites including parks, playing fields and open spaces.
The court heard how the Cassidy family had caused anti-social behaviour including assaults, large scale disorder, threats, intimidation, criminal damage and an extreme amount of fly-tipping on sites across Sandwell.
The group, along with up to 40+ caravans and vehicles, set up camp on Sandwell Council and privately-owned sites more than 25 times between June 2014 and August 2016.
Parks, business estates, car parks and playing fields were all targeted – often with human waste and tonnes of rubbish left behind once the group were moved on.
The head of the family, John Cassidy, is now banned from the whole of Sandwell, while the rest of the family are prohibited from setting up unauthorised encampments, causing damage to barriers and fly-tipping anywhere in Sandwell.
In addition to the order on the Cassidy family, the injunction also bans unauthorised encampments on 17 council sites regularly targeted by groups with caravans.
Judge McKenna granted the injunction based on substantial evidence submitted by the council and West Midlands Police.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “I welcome this tough action against a group of individuals who have caused no end of trouble for local people. The success of this injunction is down to the excellent partnership between West Midlands Police and Sandwell Council, which is setting an example nationally for how to work together to tackle an issue head-on.
“This follows Sandwell Council’s decision to bring in a transit site to strengthen our options for dealing with difficult groups. Sandwell Council is taking a lead on this important issue and I hope other councils will follow their tough action.”
Sandwell Council Leader Councillor Steve Eling said: “The Cassidy family have caused anti-social behaviour, threatened council and police officers, intimidated residents and fly-tipped on sites around Sandwell for some time.
“This injunction is a message to the Cassidys and other groups who set up unauthorised encampments that we will not tolerate this behaviour.”
Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and investment Councillor Paul Moore added: “Unauthorised encampments cause misery for residents, cost the council thousands of pounds a year and take up valuable police time and resources. This has to stop.
“This injunction is the latest in a series of actions we’re taking to prevent and remove unauthorised encampments, including the use of bailiffs, police powers and creating a transit site.
“Dealing with unauthorised encampments and the mess they often leave behind cost the council around £250,000 last year and this is just not acceptable.
“It’s our priority to protect our land by doing whatever we can to stop unauthorised encampments in Sandwell.”
The council applied for the injunction under Section 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, Section 187 (b) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972.
It is a contempt of court if any of the Cassidy family or persons unknown breach the injunction order.
Anyone breaching the order could face two years in jail, a fine or have their assets seized. Any breaches of the injunction should be reported to the council or the police.
The injunction applies to:
- John Cassidy (date of birth 30/11/72)
- Mary Cassidy
- Johnny Cassidy
- Martin Cassidy
- Patrick Cassidy (date of birth 26/06/77)
- Katrina Cassidy
- Kathleen Cassidy
- Margaret Cassidy
- Jerry Cassidy
- Jeremiah Cassidy
- Eileen Cassidy
- Elizabeth Cassidy
- William Cassidy
- Andrew Cassidy (Snr)
- Persons unknown (anyone setting up an unauthorised encampment on the following 17 sites named in the injunction):
- Kent Road Open Space, Friar Park, Wednesbury
- Millenium Park, Friar Park Road, Wednesbury
- Sandy Lane Open Space, Friar Park, Wednesbury
- Blakeley Wood Road, Tipton
- Land off Dartmouth Street, Greets Green, West Bromwich
- Shaftesbury House car park, High Street, West Bromwich
- Churchfields Playing Fields, Newton Road, West Bromwich
- Wyntor Lane Open Space, West Bromwich
- Crookhay Lane / Chester Road Open Space, West Bromwich
- Meadow Avenue Open Space, West Bromwich
- Greets Green Recreational Ground, Claypit Lane, West Bromwich
- Ridgacre Industrial Estate, Ridgacre Road, West Bromwich
- Lion Farm Playing Fields, Newbury Lane, Oldbury
- West Smethwick Park, Victoria Road, Smethwick
- Harry Mitchell Park, Coopers Lane, Smethwick
- Black Patch Park, Foundry Lane, Smethwick
- Tame Road Playing Fields, Brandhall Oldbury
In Sandwell, you can report an unauthorised encampment by:
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- calling 0121 569 3862
- contacting your local councillor, or
- calling the police on 101.