How To Deal With Pokemon Go Players On Your Property
The image of teenagers and young adults spending time with their eyes fixed on their phones is not uncommon these days. However, to see teenagers looking at their phones while standing at strange places or seemingly following invisible paths – under a tree, behind a car – is something entirely new. Welcome to the strange world of Pokémon Go.
The location-based, augmented reality game landed on the UK in July and became an instant hit: During the first weeks since its release, seemingly everyone seemed to be chasing Pokémons, thrilled by the novelty of the game. Newscasters and reporters covered the social phenomenon extensively, YouTube videos on the game proliferated across the Internet and weird game-related incidents began to surface here and there. The game was the talk of the town, and the town happened to be the whole world.
At first, players were legion: They could be spotted at churches, parks, cafeterias, schools, public buildings, streets, virtually everywhere. The digital critters were being hunted extensively by millions of fervorous early adopters. Just a month after the game’s release, there were more than 5 million players in the UK alone. Soon after, the novelty started to fade off, and only the hardcore players remained active. Unlike those driven by harmless curiosity, these are the real deal, the Jim Corbetts of the digital age. They’re after Pokémons, and won’t be easily dissuaded. Question arises: What to do when a player trespasses while searching for a Pokémon?
Invasion of the Pokémon Snatchers
Under UK law, trespassing takes several forms, some of which include:
- General trespass
- Aggravated trespass
- Trespass on protected sites (criminal trespass)
- Countryside trespass
General trespass is a civil law offense, meaning that police can’t action upon the offender. Countryside trespass, for example, isn’t a legal figure per se, but often a variation of general (and usually unintentional) trespass in poorly marked rural areas. Property owners and managers can action by warning the trespasser, and even by the using of ‘reasonable’ force, though this falls under a shady legal figure that can be disputed in court by the trespasser. In summary, general trespassing tends to be harmless, and warnings usually do a good job in dissuading the offenders.
On the other hand, aggravated trespassing is a criminal offense, and police has the power to arrest those who incur in such behaviour.
What defines criminal trespassing?
Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 enables a police officer to direct trespassers on land to leave the land where the occupier has taken steps to ask them to do so, and either
- they have damaged the land; or
- have used threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour to the occupier, his family, employees or agents; or
- between them (the trespassers) have six or more vehicles on the land.
Failure to obey directions to leave or returning to the land as a trespasser within three months is also an offence.
As you can see, the key difference between general trespass (a civil offense) and aggravated trespass (a criminal offense) lies within the intentions and actions of the trespasser after been signaled as one. In addition, there’s a list of protected sites where trespassing can be labeled as criminal. In total, the list comprises sixteen designated places, amongst which are the Buckingham Palace, Downing Street and other strategic locations.
To conclude, most Pokémon players who trespass aren’t criminals, but relentless gamers who do not notice – or in cases, blatantly ignore – a limit in order to pursue their prize. As ridiculous as it may sound, this is true for the vast majority of Pokémon Go trespassers. What can you do about it? Remain calm and talk. If things escalate, general trespassing will turn into criminal trespassing and police will need to intervene.