NEW figures have shown that police powers to remove trespassers have been used only a handful of times in the past five years to evict illegally-camped travellers in Derbyshire.
Derbyshire Police revealed that while it did not keep figures on how often the Section 61 orders were used they had been deployed at least twice in the past five years.
This will come as a great surprise to many who live in South Derbyshire, an area that, up until recently, was a haven for travellers looking to set up illegal sites.
Just last week the Mail reported how a group of travellers moved from an site in Church Gresley only to return in a matter of days to set up camp only yards from their original site.
Council chiefs say it can take between two and three weeks for it to get an eviction order through the criminal courts if the travellers have set up an illegal encampment
But the police can issue an eviction notice within hours of a camp being set up if they use the law.
Derbyshire police say they follow national guidelines on whether to act under Section 61 of the Criminal Law and Public Order Act 1994.
These say there should be 'aggravating factors before officers use their eviction powers.
A spokesman said the force did not keep records of how many times it had used the law and that the figure is 'at least two' in the past five years – but officers could not recall other instances.
Section 61 authorises the officer in charge to evict if they believe two or more people intend to stay on a site without the owner's permission, 'reasonable steps' have been taken by to remove them, and there are six or more vehicles parked on the land.