by David Bean

We welcomed the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, tabled by Lord Garnier at Committee Stage, that would have clarified the law on aggravated trespass.

It is already an offence to trespass on land and disrupt lawful activity. If, however, the trespasser claims the activity they were disrupting was unlawful, prosecutors must prove it was not; this can hamper enforcement. As Lord Garnier put it,

“It is plain and obvious that, in some cases, the trespasser asserts that the activity he is disrupting is unlawful, when he really means that he disapproves of it, that it ought to be against the law and that it should be stopped.”

The amendment would have required the person accused of aggravated trespass to show that the activity being disrupted was unlawful, so merely asserting that an activity was unlawful would not be enough.

The Government did not agree with the amendment and Lord Garnier did not press the amendment to a vote. Accordingly the amendment was withdrawn, and we understand that Lord Garnier intends to write to the Minister to seek further clarification of the Government’s position.

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