The risk of removing protesters yourself
Over recent years we have seen increasing levels of disruption in the UK. Groups of environmental protesters, including Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion, are increasingly active and there have been some members of the public who have tried to remove them.
However, this is a path fraught with danger, whether for a member of the public or a company employee such as a security officer.
Common law remedy of expulsion
The removal of trespassers from land by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) on behalf of landowners without a court order (such as a writ of possession) is possible using the common law remedy of expulsion.
This is set out in volume 97 of Halsbury's Laws of England 5th ed. at para.588. (in the 4th edition, it may be found in volume 45). It reads:
“If a trespasser peaceably enters or is on land, the person who is in, or entitled to, possession may request him to leave, and if he refuses to leave may remove him from the land, using no more force than is reasonably necessary. However, if a trespasser enters with force and violence, the person in possession may remove him without a previous request to depart. An owner of property is also entitled to take reasonable steps to prevent trespassers from entering his property. If the force or violence used in turning out a trespasser is excessive, the person who used such force himself commits a trespass upon the person of the person removed. To justify the expulsion of a trespasser, the person who uses force must be in possession or acting under the authority of the person in possession. If a trespasser erects a building on the land of another, the person who is entitled to the possession of the land may pull down the building, even though the trespasser is in it.”
The definition of reasonable force
This is where the risk of removing trespassers yourself comes into play. What counts as no more force than is reasonably necessary?
If a protester is lying in the middle of your driveway or car park in front of your car, is dragging them out of the way using reasonable force? What if they are injured in the process?
If a protester has put up a bamboo tower on your premises and your security team try to remove them, they fall and are injured, your team could be in serious trouble.
How to mitigate risk
We would always recommend bringing in experts to avoid risk to your business and reputation. In the majority of cases where the protesters are on private land, the Police will not intervene unless a criminal act is committed.
The deployment of appropriately trained and equipped HCEOs, such as the National Eviction Team, with relevant and specific enforcement experience means that any use of necessary and proportionate force is based upon standard operating procedures and is underpinned by:
- Many years of experience with no adverse actions against us
- Detailed risk assessments and risk mitigation
- Detailed operational planning
Find out more
Please get in touch if you would like to find out how your organisation can be prepared in the event of protesters, either on your site or if you adjoin a business that may be targeted.