Dear ____MP,

 

Subject: Don't criminalise trespass

 

As your constituent, I'm very concerned by the Government's proposals to criminalise trespass. Together with over 100,000 other people, I recently signed this Parliamentary petition to oppose the criminalisation of trespass (here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300139). If you follow the link, you can click through to a map showing how many other of your constituents also care deeply about this. The petition is now being considered for a debate in Parliament, and I would like you to attend to represent my concerns.

 

I'm concerned because criminalising trespass would be an extreme, illiberal and unnecessary attack on ancient freedoms that would threaten ramblers who stray from the path, wild campers, Travellers, peaceful protestors and the wider public keen to enjoy nature. Fear of criminalisation may even deter amateur naturalists from carrying out wildlife surveys, as some scientists have warned.


Criminalising trespass isn’t just draconian, it’s completely unnecessary. Landowners who wish to sue trespassers can already do so via the courts. Police forces have stated they don’t want or need any additional powers to deal with unauthorised encampments (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/14/police-oppose-traveller-and-gypsy-camp-crackdown-foi-shows). 

Access to nature is vital for everyone’s physical and mental health – something lockdown demonstrated vividly. This year’s exceptional spring, combined with the coronavirus regulations, meant many people stopped to observe and experience nature in ways they hadn’t since childhood. With restrictions on overseas travel, many more people have been enjoying their summer holidays in the British countryside. Sales of camping equipment have soared; British Canoeing has seen a 40% jump in membership; and National Parks have seen huge numbers of visitors from sections of the population who’ve never visited them before.

Criminalising trespass would create a massive chilling effect on visits to the countryside. Many people are already put off visiting rural Britain through unfamiliarity, poor transport links, existing civil trespass laws and a general sense that they don’t belong or aren’t welcome in the countryside. Such feelings are multiplied greatly for Black, Asian and ethnic minority Britons.

 

As the petition has now reached over 100,000 signatures, the Petitions Committee will be deciding how and when to debate this. I'm therefore calling on you as my representative to please attend any debate that is convened, and to relay my concerns and those shared by people up and down the country.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

[Your name and postcode]