TRESPASSER’S CODE OF CONDUCT
It goes without saying that you are free to behave however you so wish, and that every situation, or encounter whilst trespassing is different. However, to be published on this website we ask that you tick the box that confirms you have adhered to our code of conduct. The code is not meant to patronise you, to imply that you don’t already know how to act in nature, but to ensure that each of the trespasses on this site benefits the campaign, and does not harm it in any way. An issue that arises with decentralised campaigns like this is that any negative press caused by individual actions reflects poorly on the wider aims oif the campaign. You can go trespass how you like, but your trespass will only become a part of this collective direct action to improve national access if you can confirm you have abided by the following code:
- Follow the Scottish outdoor access code. Because Scotland has a right to roam, it covers activities that the English Countryside Code still pretends don’t occur in England, such as swimming or wild camping. The English Countryside code is therefore not applicable to our trespasses, so we look North for guidance. In terms of our conduct in the countryside, how we interact with the community and ecology of the area, there is no better code than the scottish outdoor access code.
- Do your best to remain polite at all times. This is a tricky one: Gamekeepers and landowners are allowed to use reasonable force when interrupting your trespass, and will often come at you with a level of aggression totally incongruous with your actions. They might goad you, patronise you, get all red-faced and shouty. But to rise to the bait not only leaves you exposed in law (rude language is considered threatening, and could up the charge to aggravated trespass) but also plays into the orthodox notion that we, the public, are a threat to nature and its community. We are not. We are accessing nature for calm, serenity, care, interest and love, not to engage in aggression conflict.
On top of all this, let’s be honest: gamekeepers are humans too. More often than not, you’ll be accosted by a young lad or a stout middle-aged man, who are operating in a distinctly patriarchal work culture. They might shout and puff their chest, just like all men who feel threatened, but since it is in their job remit to get you off the land, your presence demonstrates to their bosses that they are not doing their job properly. This puts them in a difficult position. But shouting back at a gamekeeper is as worthwhile as insulting a Vodafone call centre operative. It leaves you feeling awful, and doesn’t change the wider picture. Be like Michelle Obama, and when they go low, go high.
- But why not go one step further. Do your best to engage with landowners and their representatives on civil terms, try to create a dialogue. Often this one act can lead to a meaningful exchange of opinions, with things to be learnt on both sides. One of the central problems with exclusive land ownership is that it has ignored all attempts for dialogue largely because it is, quite simply, morally inexcusable. Both sides of the debate treat the other as if they are crazed buffoons, and stoutly ignores the nuance of real life. Listen to the gamekeeper, and politely suggest they listen to you.
- Leave your dog at home. Apologies to all dog owners and dog lovers out there, but for a trespass to be published on this website, it cannot include a dog. The right to roam campaign adores dogs and we believe in a new english countryside that welcomes them. However, for two reasons, they will not help our campaign: 1) they can cause very significant harm to livestock, and the risk of this happening on a direct action is that it further entrenches the notion that the public are a threat to the countryside and 2) their presence pours petrol on the fire of a landowner’s ire. Whether or not your dog is the proud owner of a Crufts rosette, the simple presence of a dog will cause many landowners to disengage completely from dialogue. The issue of dogs is separate to the issue of public access, and will mostly likely end up in a rolling out of this scheme, but for now, we need to leave dogs out of the debate.
- Pick up litter – obviously, if you’re following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, you will take care not to drop any litter. But we believe in a deeper relationship of care between communities and their ecology, so we ask you to bring a bag with you to pick up any litter you see on your way. But don’t just leave it at that – let social media know you’ve picked up the litter with the hashtag #trespasslitterpick
- Cause no harm – remember the wiccan rede, just so long as you don’t harm anything, do what you want. Take utmost care not to injure, or damage the ecology of the area – act as if you are the welcome guest, both of the ecology of the land, and its community.