[Diggers350] Social Cleansing: Tories New Anti-traveller Laws Set To Criminalise Nomadic Way Of Life
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Wed Mar 10 02:15:36 GMT 2021
Social Cleansing: Tories New Anti-traveller Laws
Set To Criminalise Nomadic Way Of Life
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9 March 2021
New Anti-traveller Laws Set To Criminalise Nomadic Way Of Life
The Government has announced new laws that will
make trespass with vehicles a criminal offence
in a move that has caused fury among Gypsy and Traveller campaigners.
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said yesterday,
that the new laws will target trespassers who
intend to reside on any private or public land in
vehicles without permission, and where they are
causing significant disruption, distress or harm to local communities.
This new offence will enable the police to fine
or arrest those residing without permission on
private or public land in vehicles in order to
stop significant disruption, distress or harm
being caused to the law-abiding majority, she added.
The new law also gives the police the powers to
seize and impound vehicles whose owners fail to
comply with the new law and who refuse or cant leave.
Gypsy and Traveller campaigners reacted with fury
saying that the new laws were racist.
You are criminalising a problem that has been
created by the failings of a political will to
deliver appropriate accommodation, said Joseph P
Jones from the Gypsy Council, in a Facebook
comment left on Priti Patels Facebook page.
Joseph P Jones also pointed out that to get
planning permission to develop their own
permanent legal Traveller site, Gypsies and
Travellers have to obtain gypsy status, the
only requirement of which is to prove that they
are and will continue to travel.
Travellers are told they have to prove they
travel to gain planning permission for their own private sites, he added.
locally, Councils refuse to provide public sites.
Well, racism is alive and well in the Home
Office. Through political failure. Be proud of your right-wing achievement.
Police Powers and Protections Bill (2021)
The Government say that the new offence of criminal trespass will target:
* A person aged 18 or over resides or intends
to reside on land without consent of the occupier of the land;
* They have, or intend to have, at least one
vehicle with them on the land;
* They have caused or are likely to cause
significant damage, disruption or distress;
They, without reasonable excuse:
* Fail to leave the land and remove their
property following a request to do so by an
occupier of the land, their representative or a constable; or
* Enter or, having left, re-enter the land
with an intention of residing there without the
consent of the occupier of the land, and with an
intention to have at least one vehicle with them,
within 12 months of a request to leave and remove
their property from an occupier of the land,
their representative or a constable.
* Reasonable suspicion that a person has
committed this offence confers power on a
constable to seize their vehicle/other property
[home] for up to three months from the date of
seizure or, if criminal proceedings are
commenced, until the conclusion of those proceedings.
The new law will affect England and Wales but not Scotland.
A horse drawn wagon will count as a vehicle.
Horse drawn new Travellers are worried that
their way of life will be destroyed as well.
Picture from No Fixed Abode Traveller group
Responding to the news, Abbie Kirkby, Public
Affairs and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:
The Government seems hell bent on introducing
tougher police powers for people living on
roadside camps, even though all the evidence is
stacking up against them in their own
consultation it is clear that most respondents
dont want tougher powers. The views of the
majority of consultation respondents have been
ignored, opening the door to a harsh and unfair
set of proposals which punish some of the UKs
minority ethnic groups, who already face some of the starkest inequalities.
Our research shows that the majority of police
respondents are against the proposals and also
that there is a chronic national shortage of
places to stop. The Government should not
imprison people, fine them and remove their homes
for the crime of having nowhere to go. Another
way is possible. Through negotiated stopping and
by identifying land where Traveller sites can be
built, councils can ensure nomadic families have
a safe place to stop, save money on evictions and
improve relations between travelling and settled
communities. Everybody needs a place to live.
Responding to the proposals, Jenny, a Romany Gypsy, said:
My daughter is trying to get a pitch, but loads
of families trying, shes feeling depressed. Her
and her partner dont know where theyre going to
go. Its not right to criminalise us all. We
dont leave any rubbish, we respect the other
residents, we clean up after ourselves, but were
going to be stopped from travelling. There arent
enough sites for Travellers. Were being treated
like animals. Theyre always building more houses
but no more sites. She cant get a site, she
cant stop on the road. Shes tearful, shes
crying a lot. She just wants to settle down and
make a life for herself like anyone else.
The Government promised to bring in the new law
in their manifesto for the last election. An
image put up on her Facebook page yesterday by Home Secretary Priti Patel
The laws are pretty much what campaigners were
fearing and what was promised in the Conservative
manifesto at the last election the criminalisation of trespass with vehicles.
By focusing on vehicles the Government has
side-stepped opposition from ramblers and
homeless charities. However that makes the new
laws easier to challenge under equalities laws as
Romany Gypsies and Irish and Scottish Travellers
are protected ethnic groups. We understand that
lawyers are already geared up to challenge the new laws.
The surprise is that the number of vehicles
needed to trigger the new laws has dropped from
the promised two to one. This then brings lots of
the new single vehicle van-lifers parking up on
private or public land within the scope of the new law.
On the face of it, the new laws are only
triggered if the senior police officer attending
the camp believes that the camp has caused or
are likely to cause significant damage, disruption or distress.
However, likely to cause is open to wide
interpretations and the powers, and the resulting
seizure of vehicles if the camp refuses to
disband, will be reliant on the whims and
prejudices of the police officers present and
some police officers are more racist than others
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