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Trespassing Laws in the UK

Trespass is the act of illegally entering another person's property. In the United Kingdom all land has an owner and if an individual enters that land without the owner's permission, she is trespassing, unless there is public right of way such as paths or highways which allow the public a legal right of passage. If an individual is invited onto someone's property and then is asked to leave by the landowner, he must leave or he is trespassing.

Criminal Law

In the U.K trespassing is usually a civil wrong and as such must be dealt with through the civil courts. However, certain forms of trespassing are covered by criminal law. Under Sections 61 and 62 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 there are specifically outlined criminal offences for trespassing on land and trespassing with vehicles for squatters, raves (illegal dance events often held in the fields of private property) and hunt saboteurs. The criminal offence referring to hunt saboteurs was aimed at activists entering private property to disrupt fox hunting. Fox hunting has been made illegal now but the law still covers other types of hunting. As of June 2007 it is also a criminal offence to trespass in certain important places in the U.K. These places include several residences on Downing Street, royal residences and certain government buildings.

Civil Law

Where the act of trespass does not constitute a criminal offence, the trespasser may be sued for the hypothetical value of the benefit received by trespassing. The owner of the land can also apply through the civil courts for an injunction against the trespasser, legally preventing her from continuing to trespass. If the trespasser breaches the terms of an injunction, she may be held in contempt of court and can be fined and imprisoned.

Neighbours and Trespassing

In certain situations, the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 gives owners of neighbouring land the right to access an individual's land in order to make repairs to their own property. Written notification must be given to the landowner before any repairs are started. The Act gives a neighbour only limited rights of access for "basic preservation works."


Trespassers are often dealt with via the construction of walls or the addition of spikes or barbed wire to an existing wall. Although a landowner is within his rights to construct such deterrents, the local authorities have the power to remove any construction close to a public right of way if they think it could pose a danger. It is also an offence for landowners to obstruct a public right of way.