POLICE have used Section 61 powers to move on a group of Travellers who set up an encampment in Ringwood.

The encampment had been set up in the car park at Ringwood Health and Leisure Centre on Parsonage Barn Lane on Sunday.

A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: "We have worked with Ringwood School and the New Forest District Council as the encampment restricted access to Ringwood School, resulting in the school making the decision to close for safeguarding reasons today (Monday 29 June)."

Under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, powers can be considered by police in circumstances where there is significant nuisance or criminal behaviour, unacceptable levels of damage to land or property to gain entry or remain or danger to travellers from the chosen site, such as environmental health factors.

Inspector Mike Minnock said: “In using these powers, Hampshire Constabulary will always ensure that we balance the needs and rights of all our communities with actions that are proportionate, lawful and necessary.

“I hope this swift action to move the travellers on from locations that were unsuitable will convey to all sections of the community that a robust approach will be taken against encampments within legal parameters.

“We will continue to work closely with partner agencies and private landowners to manage unauthorised encampments and identify repeat locations where there has been criminality or disorder in order to target harden these sites.”

A spokesperson for New Forest District Council said: "The site is now clear after the Police issued a Section 61 Notice. 

"NFDC would like to thank their partners, Hampshire Constabulary and Ringwood school, for all their assistance."