Trespass is a civil offence.
It is up to the landowner to press charges, the Crown itself won't.
The landowner, the landowner's agents or the police under direction from the landowner
have the right to remove trespassers from their property using reasonable force.

Trespass only becomes a criminal offence if it is aggravated trespass,
which was brought in under the 1994 Criminal Justice Act.
Aggravated trespass takes place when the trespasser trespasses to disrupt or attempt to disrupt any lawful activity taking place on that property or adjoining property

It is against the law to trespass on any land (and inland that includes land covered by water such as rivers or lakes) or in any building.
Ignorance of that fact is no defence under this law.

The word trespass covers much more than people usually realise.
All land in this country belongs to someone.
If you go on to land without the owner's permission, you are trespassing unless there is some right of access for the public,
or for you specifically (for example if you have acquired a right to pass over the land to reach some land of your own).

Any person can enter a place if the landowners permit it.
However, this does not necessarily make a permanent right of access..
unless they have dedicated a bit of land to be permanently open.
it is within the power of the landowner to ask any person to leave,
assuming that person does not have some other lawful reason to be there.

If the person does not go immediately, by the shortest practical route, then they are trespassing.
Despite the well known sign ‘trespassers will be prosecuted’, trespass is not a criminal offence and trespassers cannot usually be prosecuted.
They can, however, be sued. There is little chance of such a matter ever being so serious as to be worth suing over,
and so this rarely happens.

If a visitor misbehaves at any time and refuses to leave when asked to do so by someone with a right to do so
(usually the landowner or a representative)
then the visitor could become a trespasser because they no longer have the landowner's permission to be there,
even if they entered legally.

Note: this also gives landowners the absolute right to close off paths (other than rights of way),
and areas without notice or explanation.

This law is of little practical use but might be employed when arguing with more reasonable people.
It does not apply to people on a public footpath or other right of way, or on open access land.
The problem is that if someone is trespassing, they are unlikely to comply with a polite request to leave.
If they then do not, the landowner has little if any further recourse. Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
allows the senior police officer attending the scene of an incident involving a trespass or nuisance on land to order trespassers to leave the land and to remove their vehicles as soon as reasonably practicable.
The power can only be used when there are two or more people there and
"are present there with the common purpose of residing there for any period, and that reasonable steps have been taken by or on behalf of the occupier to ask them to leave",
and either the trespassers have six or more vehicles between them,
or they have caused damage to the land or to property on the land or used threatening,
abusive or insulting words or behaviour - or both.
So really it's not likely to cover anything other than a major invasion.
This power is not often used, but for practical purposes this is the only instance where you might get the police to come and actually remove trespassers from a bit of land.

Sometimes, people go onto private property, such as woodland.
which is not apparently fenced off and where the owners do not seem to mind.
The fact that there is no fence or no sign saying that the land is private does not mean that people can go there.
Wandering on to farmers fields or other places which are obviously private is clearly trespassing,
but so is wandering over land which may not be so clearly private, if the public has no right of access.

It is not normally possible to be a trespasser whilst legitimately on a right of way.
However, if the user is not using the right of way as a route to get from one place to another,
but using it for some other reason, such as to interfere with the landowner,
they can be considered to be a trespasser.

Never ever cause damage to gain entry to a property.
If there is no obvious access points, then give it up and leave at once
Even accidental damage will be considered an offence.
Don't take tools with you on an explore.
If caught with them, you will be seen as "going equipped".

In the event of being caught on private property by the owner, or by a representative,
Leave immediatley by the shortest possible route.
Don't use violent/threatening behaviour towards them.
Don't make matters worse for yourself by arguing with the person(s)
Never take item(s) from an exploration site.
This can be counted as theft, and will lead to a more serious matter.

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© Chewy's Urban Exploration - 2008