The number of illegal occupations by travellers on public land have trebled.

Figures obtained from Essex County Council revealed between October and March there were 72 unauthorised encampments in Essex compared to 19 the previous year.

These figures only includes incidents where travellers have pitched up on public or public authority land.

The large numbers of incidents on private land are not officially recorded by the council.

During the summer of 2013 there were 77 unauthorised encampments compared to 34 the previous summer, after which a special travellers’ unit was set up.