The impact of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 on gypsy travellers
Dr Anthony Drummond, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, talks about his research into the Gypsy Roma Traveller Community and a webinar he participated in to discuss this proposed Bill.
One of my research interests concerns the Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) communities and in 2018 I interviewed members of the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association. I asked them about their views as to policing by consent, the policing of Traveller sites, and, the impact of racism on GRTPA members claiming GRT ethnicity. Currently the article remains under review and is entitled: Peripheral Inclusion?: Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association Officers Speak Out. A link to further information on this project can be found here.
As a result of my research into criminal justice and GRTs I was invited to speak at the Traveller Movement webinar: Problematic policing - The impact of the Police Powers Bill on Gypsy Travellers 05/05/21.
Concerns were raised at this webinar as to the impact of the Police Crime and Sentencing Bill 2021 on Gypsy Traveller people should it become law. Despite the fact the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 remains in place to control unauthorised encampments, and, the fact that the British Government have never adequately provided for accommodation for Gypsy Travellers (including transit sites that would enable nomadic Travellers to legally stop) the Home Office have explicitly stated they wish to strengthen police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments If the Bill becomes law it will grant powers to confiscate homes (and as happened in the Republic of Ireland under the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2002: see my PhD: Irish Travellers and the Criminal Justice Systems across the Island of Ireland 2007, Ulster University funded by DELNI) impose prison sentences of three months and/or fines of up to £2500. Meanwhile residents of unauthorised encampments will be barred from returning to the location within 12 months. Thus the outcome will be that some Gypsy Travellers will become involved with the criminal justice system simply because the British government has failed to provide adequate accommodation for them (permanent sites including transit sites). Additionally, all housed Gypsy Travellers/those residing on sites will be further associated with criminality due to stereotyping via the media for example see ‘Gypsies, Travellers and the Media: Press regulation and racism in the UK by Rachel Morris.’
Other concerns raised at the webinar were as to how if the Bill becomes law it will further exacerbate relationships between police and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people even though the majority of police are not in favour of the Bill’s aims concerning Gypsy Travellers. The event was hosted by the Traveller Movement’s Sophie Wainwright, chaired by Sam Grant from Liberty and the other speakers were Abbie Kirby of Friends Family and Travellers and Tessa Buchanan from Garden Court Chambers. My presentation concerned my research on the GRTPA and how it underscored that the Bill can only further impact negatively on relationships between police and the Gypsy Roma Traveller communities. The webinar can be accessed here.
More information on the impact of the Bill can be found here.
See also a report authored by Claire Rice.
Anthony is a Senior Lecturer in criminology. In 2018 he was awarded a scholarship to attend a Summer School at the CEU in Budapest entitled Romani Identities and Antigypsyism.