An initiative that helps identify sites at risk and secure them before they become occupied by unauthorised trespassers camps, has been successfully trialled and launched by the property security specialist, VPS.
Data for all break-ins and attempted security breaches on the 30,000 UK-wide premises that VPS looks after, is analysed, and combined with additional information from social media, crime reports, traveller reports and council websites. VPS collates and develops the results to provide advanced intel as and when the encampments move on, enabling them to map the next likely ‘hotspots’, warning their customers of potential unauthorised encampments and trespassers arising in their region.
VPS carry out 116,000 site inspections annually across the UK, and their video monitoring centre receives 42,000 alarm calls weekly. Its guarding and response team collate all that data and map it to detect specific ‘hotspots’ of trespasser activity.
The VPS Trespasser Tracking Advanced Knowledge (T‑TRAK) initiative helps landowners and property managers to avoid the costly removal and clear-up of temporary encampments, which can run into tens of thousands of pounds at a time.
The UK government published a consultation this year into unauthorised trespasser encampments as the record numbers of caravans almost tripled between 1979 and 2019. Their report recounted significant problems created by unauthorised encampments, including criminal activity and costs once the encampment has moved on, estimated to be tens of millions of pounds annually to local authorities and private landowners.
One example cited 200 unauthorised settlements in just one borough over the last 3 years.
The opportunity to put T‑Trak to the test came earlier this year with the Appleby Horse Fair, Europe’s biggest horse trade gathering, playing host to around 30,000 attendees. By sharing their collated intel with clients, VPS could assist them to mitigate the temporarily increased risk from unauthorised trespassing.
Movements of encampments were tracked across the UK as they headed towards the Fair, allowing VPS to alert customers with properties within 50 miles of the expected routes. Advanced warning meant short-term enhanced security measures could protect clients’ properties at times of increased vulnerability.
In another example, last week two security guards and dog handlers were sent to a site after three squatters had gained access to a client’s premises in Enfield, North London. Using the T‑Trak initiative, further intel was gathered by VPS, and indicated that up to 100 squatters were on the move in the region. The security presence was increased immediately, and multiple attempts to gain access throughout the night were prevented. The three squatters left the premises on their own accord and the property was re-secured.
“Since putting this initiative to the test, we have had some great feedback from clients about the speed of the response and the time it has given them to put in place additional extra security measures temporarily, until the trespassers have moved away.” Says Jose Rosa, VPS Security Services Guarding and Alarms Manager. “It has shown how useful it is to collate all the intel together and pass that on to customers.”
 Page 7 Figure 3: number of caravans 1979 – 2019 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/806650/Traveler_Caravan_Count_Release.pdf
 Page 6 and 7, The Case for Action https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/776942/Unauthorised_development_and_encampments_response.pdf
 Unauthorised encampment on their way to Appleby Fair cause over £300,000 damage to Thwaites Brewery in Blackburn https://www.lancashire.police.uk/news/2019/february/men-sentenced-after-extensive-damage-and-theft-at-thwaites-site/