Date: 08 March 2021
Today the government published its response to the Home Office consultation on strengthening police powers for roadside encampments. Under the new plans, a new criminal offence will be introduced for people living on roadside camps which could result in people being imprisoned, fined or having their home removed from them. In addition, the Government plans to strengthen existing powers in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act and give powers to enable the police to direct a roadside camp away from land that forms part of a highway and more.
Responding to the announcement, CEO of the Traveller Movement Yvonne MacNamara said the following:
We have been clear from the outset of this consultation that criminalisation of homeless Gypsies and Travellers is completely unfair and unnecessary. This hostile move will cause untold hardship to the most vulnerable Gypsies and Travellers, and will further inflame community tensions, leading to many becoming homeless.
The Home Office received a record 26,337 responses to this consultation, the vast majority of which did not agree with criminalisation. How did this consultation pass an Equality Impact Assessment? It is simply unbelievable that the Home Office intends to move ahead with this draconian law.
A representative from the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association said the following:
The GRTPA are absolutely opposed to the Government moving ahead with the recommendations to criminalise trespass. This proposed legislation criminalises a traditional way of life for our community and will only seek to marginalise Gypsies and Travellers further. We believe the solution is, and has always been adequate site provision across the country, inclusive of transit sites and negotiated stopping.
Gypsies and Travellers are recognised ethnic groups and our nomadic way of life is part of our culture, therefore this legislation would be in conflict with Human Rights and Equality legislation and would only further antagonise the awful bias and discrimination we suffer daily.
Telephone: 020 7607 2002
Notes to Editor
* The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion. Visit website here: https://travellermovement.org.uk/
* The Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association is a support network for Police Personnel who are from a GRT background. The GRTPA's founding purpose is to support Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Police Officers, as well as other Police staff across the United Kingdom in the work environment. It also works to ensure the police have a better awareness of the key issues the GRT face and help to reduce the incidences of prejudice and racism. Visit their website here: https://grtpa.co.uk/about-us
Read the Traveller Movement submission to the Home Office consultation here, formally supported by the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association.