Reports on social media that a band of homeless people have been living in Sherwood Forest, building tree camps and hunting game has concerned teachers at schools in the area.
The Chad received unconfirmed reports that a large group of men, women and children described as ‘desperate’ had been living in the woodland, famed as the hideout for Robin Hood.
But after investigation into the reports, which caused controversy on social media and concerns for schools in the area who take trips into the forest, the Chad can confirm the accounts have been refuted.
Nottinghamshire Police said that there have been reports a few weeks ago of young people camping in the woods, however there have been no sightings of large groups of people living in the national forest.
A spokesperson said: “We’ve spoken to the rangers at Sherwood Forest visitors centre and they were aware of some young people camping in the woods quite recently and suspect that’s what it is.”
Regarding reports of threatening behaviour, they added: “We’ve had no reports of this issue,” but said since the news of supposed camps emerged online there have been calls from concerned schools in the area, worried about taking pupils on trips into the woodland.
The news follows allegations made by an Edwinstowe man, Alan, 66, who claimed to have encountered the large groups, and said they were threatening people, hunting deer and cutting down trees to build elaborate camps.
He said: “There’s maybe more than 20, living in the forest and causing damage.
“They’re chopping down trees, killing pheasant.
“This has been going on for years,” said Alan, who also claimed the group were Eastern European.
The reports caused a furore on social media with some alluding to the return of legendary Robin Hood, so the Chad went to investigate the claims.
But when Alan took us to the camps to see the evidence for ourselves, we found only scores of empty beer cans and smoking paraphernalia – more suggestive that groups were partying in the woods than living there. At a second site, an elaborate tree house, believed to have been built by the group - we put it to Alan that it was actually built by local teens in 2010.
Alan maintains it could have been used to live in since.
The wider Sherwood Forest is a large area of land managed by a range of different landowners including the Forestry Commission.
Izi Banton, Site Manager at Sherwood Forest Country Park, at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: "Sherwood Forest Country Park is managed by Nottinghamshire County Council but there have been no illegal encampments set up within the country park site.
"Should there be any sign of such illegal encampments in Sherwood Forest Country Park, the County Council will act immediately to secure the removal of such encampments."
A team of Forest Rangers patrol the woodland every day and said they do not believe there is anyone living in Sherwood Forest and have not heard of any threatening behaviour.
A spokesperson said: "We are not aware of any illegal camps within our woodlands and although this does happen from time to time, we work closely with the police and local authorities to have them removed when found.