Tough new powers to tackle illegal Traveller sites are being considered by ministers to help address concerns over antisocial behaviour.
The housing minister, Dominic Raab, will announce on Thursday a government review of the laws dealing with the growing number of unauthorised caravan sites and developments around the country.
Whitehall officials will also look at what barriers currently exist to setting up new camps, which some local councils are reluctant to do fearing the objections of local residents.
The government claims that unauthorised sites can be distressing for both Traveller communities, whose health and education can suffer, and locals, who often have to deal with fly-tipping and noise.
The number of Traveller caravans on authorised sites has increased since 2010. However, the latest figures show that about 16% of all caravans – about 3,700 – are on unauthorised sites.
However, Traveller groups have said that a severe shortage of official sites had led to more illegal encampments because Gypsy and Traveller families had nowhere else to go.
Yvonne MacNamara, chief executive of the Traveller Movement, said: “We hope that this consultation addresses and deals with the lack of authorised and safe sites available to the Gypsy and Traveller community.
“A lack of funding and political will over many years has perpetuated a severe shortage of sites, which in turn has perpetuated illegal encampments with nowhere else to go. The government needs to realise that addressing this issue will in turn address the issue of illegal encampments.”
The consultation will examine what additional powers local authorities, the police and landowners could be given to deal with unauthorised sites, as well as establishing whether any barriers exist to establishing new authorised ones.
Raab said: “The vast majority of the travelling community are decent and law-abiding people. But we are particularly concerned about illegal Traveller encampments, and some of the antisocial behaviour they can give rise to.
“We must promote a tolerant society and make sure there are legal sites available for Travellers, but equally, the rule of law must be applied to everyone.”
To contact the editor responsible for this story: theguardian