Write to your MP - ask them to attend the debate on trespass
Thanks to the 134,000 of you who signed our petition, 'Don't criminalise trespass', MPs will debate this issue in Parliament. The Petitions Committee had scheduled a debate for Monday 25th January 2021, but this has now been postponed due to Westminster Hall sittings being suspended. But the debate will be rescheduled, and it remains vital that we encourage MPs to attend and represent your views.
Please contact your MP using and adapting the template email below. You can look up your MP and their email address on the Parliament website here. Remember to include your postcode when you send your email, to show you're a constituent, otherwise they won't have to respond.
Template email for you to adapt and send to your MP:
Subject: Don't criminalise trespass - please register to attend the Petitions Committee debate
As your constituent, I'm very concerned by the Government's proposals to criminalise trespass. Together with over 134,000 other people, I 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 was scheduled for a Petitions Committee debate on Monday 25th January 2021, but has been postponed due to Westminster Hall sittings being suspended. But it will be rescheduled, and I would like you to attend to represent my concerns - please register with the Speaker to do so.
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.
Access to nature is vital for everyone’s physical and mental health – something lockdown demonstrated vividly. Last 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 enjoyed 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.
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, whether by Travellers or protestors (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/14/police-oppose-traveller-and-gypsy-camp-crackdown-foi-shows). Gypsies and Travellers are already amongst the most marginalised communities in the UK, and criminalising trespass or increasing police powers of eviction would compound the inequalities they experience.
Criminalising trespass is opposed by numerous access and environment groups, from the Ramblers and British Mountaineering Council to CPRE and the British Horse Society, who wrote to the Home Secretary earlier this year urging her to reconsider the proposals (see https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rethink-trespass-law-ramblers-urge-priti-patel-8ghgj3m8n). It is also opposed across party lines: the chair of the Conservative Environment Network, Ben Goldsmith, wrote an article in the Telegraph this Autumn calling on the Government to drop plans to criminalise trespass (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/environment/2020/10/22/ben-goldsmith-calls-government-drop-plans-criminalise-trespass/).
The Petitions Committee has said a debate on this will be rescheduled soon. I'm therefore calling on you as my representative to please attend the debate, and to relay my concerns and those shared by people up and down the country.
[Your name and postcode]