Residents powerless to remove illegal immigrants from their gardens

Daily Mail | March 20, 2010

At first sight, the piles of rubbish and debris strewn across this garden make it look just like a rubbish tip.

But on closer inspection, it is revealed to be a makeshift camp for desperate Eastern European immigrants.

Around a dozen are camping out in residents' gardens, sheds and even their trees as they cannot afford their own homes.

Those who live in the street in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, have been told they are powerless to remove the trespassers taking shelter on their land.

Groups of immigrants have moved into the gardens of at least six properties since November last year, leaving a trail of cider bottles, bags of human waste and drugs needles behind them.

Though homeowners have appealed for help, the police and council say they cannot arrest the trespassers - who have no passports and are mostly from Eastern Europe - because they claim it is a civil, not a criminal matter.

The immigrants gained access to the land through an open alleyway and sleep on dirty mattresses, using rolled-up blankets as pillows.

Ian Treasure, 41, one of the homeowners affected by the camps, said a man named Joseph from the Czech Republic was living in his garden coal shed.

Despite six phone calls to Peterborough City Council pleading with them to evict the immigrants and remove the mountains of dumped rubbish, he could not get the man to leave.
Mr Treasure said: 'The area has become overrun. It is disgusting and the worst thing is that nobody is doing anything about it. Every day it gets worse.

'It all started in November. I was looking out of the window and I saw a mattress in my coal shed. I went out and it turned out I had a lodger there.

'I'm not sure how many there are because I try to stay away from them but I'm fed up because they regularly drink in our gardens and take drugs.'

Mr Treasure said he had asked the man, who speaks broken English and has scabs on his face, to leave dozens of times.

'The angriest I have got was the first time I saw drug needles there in January. I freaked out,' he said.

Mr Treasure added that he was incredibly frustrated that the council and police had done nothing to help him.

He added: 'The police's hands are tied. All they can do is just move them on and then they would be back so it would be a waste of time.'

Ricky Smith, 23, attempted to remove the squatter in his shed after catching him defecating on his lawn on Wednesday night.

He said: 'I slung all his belongings into a pile and told him to get out. I haven't seen him since so hopefully he has got the message.

'I caught him defecating on my lawn, where my dog plays. I had to build a fence to keep him out of that part of the garden so my dog doesn't get ill playing in his mess.'

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said that the makeshift camps were not a criminal matter. 

He said: 'Anybody is allowed to use reasonable force to stop people trespassing and get them off their property - much like a bouncer in a pub or club.

'If there is some sort of confrontation then we can step in and prevent a breach of the peace, but we cannot act directly against the trespassers.' 

A spokesman for Peterborough council said: 'We are aware of a number of people who are sleeping in these gardens.

'We will be working to help them access the services which are available to them.'
Peterborough's MP Stewart Jackson today said Labour had failed to deal with immigration problems that have led to jobless migrants camping in British gardens.

The Tory MP said: 'The Labour government was warned that uncontrolled immigration would cause these sorts of problems.

'They have ignored Peterborough's needs and local taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for their foolish and misguided policies.'