Esher and Walton MP Dominic Raab’s consultation on unauthorised encampments has been welcomed by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey, David Munro.

The consultation is seeking views on proposals including a new offence of “aggravated trespass”, increasing police powers and providing transit sites.

Mr Munro called it a significant milestone in addressing the issue of illegal traveller encampments.

He said: “Last year we saw an unprecedented number of unauthorised encampments in Surrey and elsewhere in the country. These often result in tensions in our communities and put a strain on police and local authority resources.

“I have previously called for a nationally coordinated approach to what is a complex issue, so I am really pleased to see this consultation looking at a range of measures to address it.

“Unauthorised encampments often result from an insufficient supply of permanent or transit pitches for travelling communities to use, so I am particularly heartened to see this featured.”

Travellers have in the past set up illegally in West Molesey Recreation Ground, the Hurst Pool car park and the Alexandra Recreation Ground in Tolworth.

Clean-ups are sometimes necessary, and anti-social behaviour has also been linked to the encampments.

However, 84 per cent of caravans in England are on sites authorised for travellers.

Mr Munro said: “While it is only a minority that cause negativity and disruption, it is also important the consultation paper includes a review of the powers police and other agencies have in dealing with criminality when it occurs.

“As the national Association of Police and Crime Commissioners lead for equalities, diversity and human rights issues, I remain committed to helping challenge misconceptions around the Gypsies, Roma and Travellers community, which too often suffers discrimination and victimisation which can never be tolerated.

“We must seek that fine balance in addressing the impact on our local communities while at the same time meeting the needs of the travelling community.

“This consultation marks a really important step towards finding better solutions for all communities and I will be watching with interest to see the results.”