Aggravated Trespass

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

Section 68 – Offence of aggravated trespass (England, Wales, Scotland, N.I.)

Aggravated trespass is most often used against hunt saboteurs who may have to enter private land in order to try and stop a hunt (see for more information on tactics) although it has also been used against protesters entering sites which don’t belong to them. For example, if activists entered the premises of EDO/MBM in Brighton (see for more information on the campaign) in order to disrupt work, they could be arrested under section 68.

The Law.

(1)A person commits the offence of aggravated trespass if he trespasses on land and, in relation to any lawful activity which persons are engaging in or are about to engage in on that or adjoining land , does there anything which is intended by him to have the effect—
(a)of intimidating those persons or any of them so as to deter them or any of them from engaging in that activity,
(b)of obstructing that activity, or
(c)of disrupting that activity.

(1A)The reference in subsection (1) above to trespassing includes, in Scotland, the exercise of access rights (within the meaning of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (asp 2)) up to the point when they cease to be exercisable by virtue of the commission of the offence under that subsection.

(2)Activity on any occasion on the part of a person or persons on land is “lawful” for the purposes of this section if he or they may engage in the activity on the land on that occasion without committing an offence or trespassing on the land.

(3)A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or both.


(5)In this section “land” does not include—
(a)the highways and roads excluded from the application of section 61 by paragraph (b) of the definition of “land” in subsection (9) of that section; or
(b)a road within the meaning of the M1Roads (Northern Ireland) Order 1993.

Section 69 – Powers to remove persons committing or participating in aggravated trespass.

(1)If the senior police officer present at the scene reasonably believes—
(a)that a person is committing, has committed or intends to commit the offence of aggravated trespass on land; or
(b)that two or more persons are trespassing on land and are present there with the common purpose of intimidating persons so as to deter them from engaging in a lawful activity or of obstructing or disrupting a lawful activity,
he may direct that person or (as the case may be) those persons (or any of them) to leave the land.

(2)A direction under subsection (1) above, if not communicated to the persons referred to in subsection (1) by the police officer giving the direction, may be communicated to them by any constable at the scene.

(3)If a person knowing that a direction under subsection (1) above has been given which applies to him—
(a)fails to leave the land as soon as practicable, or
(b)having left again enters the land as a trespasser within the period of three months beginning with the day on which the direction was given,
he commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale, or both.

(4)In proceedings for an offence under subsection (3) it is a defence for the accused to show—
(a)that he was not trespassing on the land, or
(b)that he had a reasonable excuse for failing to leave the land as soon as practicable or, as the case may be, for again entering the land as a trespasser.


(6)In this section “lawful activity” and “land” have the same meaning as in section 68.

Notes and explanation.

Since the Hunting Act became law, many acts of hunting have become unlawful. The law itself, however, seems to have been written in such a way that it can be interpreted differently by different individuals and it also includes various exemptions – situations in which certain acts of hunting are lawful. Therefore it is an extremely confusing law for saboteurs, hunters and police alike and also one which is routinely ignored and/or abused by police officers. See the article on the Hunting Act for more information.

The law states that, to be guilty of an offence of aggravated trespass, you would have to be attempting to disrupt/deter/obstruct a lawful activity taking place on that land. If what the hunt* is doing is not within the law, you (technically) should not be arrested under section 68. You could be arrested or removed from the land by police however if they believe that your actions could amount to or be about to cause a breach of the peace (see “Breach of the Peace” for more information).

*or other organisation/business/corporation

The magazine “HOWL” released by the HSA (Hunt Saboteurs Association) covers the Hunting Act and what saboteurs can and can’t do within the law and what the hunt can and can’t do within the law. We believe it is important to know what is within and what is against the law so that you are able to argue your side well and make educated decisions as to if and when it may be effective (and potentially life-saving for another animal) to break the law. However, it is also important to remember that this will not always save you from being arrested.