A ban targeting travellers and preventing them from setting up in parks has been secured by Greenwich Council.

The council sought the ban on unlawful encampments after a ten day period between October and November in which four travellers’ camps were illegally set up in the borough’s parks.

The travellers ban, secured from the High Court, will be an interim injunction that will cover a three month period until March 19.

It means that anyone who sets up camp on one of the 203 parks owned by the council without permission will be in contempt of court and face arrest, confiscation of assets or even prison.

Greenwich Council has said the number of illegal encampments set up by travellers on its land has increased in the past five years.

Since April 2015 there has been 26 camps set up unlawfully with the majority over the summer months, leaving the council with a bill of more than £400,000 to cover the cost of evictions, rubbish removal and ground restoration.

The breaking point for Greenwich Council was at the end of October 2017 when camps were set up in land at Footscray Road, The Course in Eltham, Coldharbour Playing Fields and Fairy Hill Park in Eltham.

Cllr Jackie Smith, cabinet member for community safety and environment, said: “I am pleased that we were successful in our application for an interim borough wide injunction to protect Council parks and land against illegal encampments.

“There has been a catalogue of concerns raised by residents and businesses over damage to public spaces, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour caused by persistent encampments.

“In addition to causing major damage to green spaces and wildlife the unlawful camps have required the Council to carry out costly clean-up operations amounting to thousands of pounds.”

The injunction does not cover privately owned land and there is an established site for travellers at the Thistlebrook site in Abbey Wood which can accommodate 60 homes such as trailers, caravans and mobile homes.