Home Office asked to withdraw flawed consultation

February 11, 2020

Eleven organisations supporting Gypsies and Travellers, including LGT, have urged Home Secretary Priti Patel to withdraw the current consultation on criminalising trespass and strengthening police powers to evict.

A letter to the Home Office  sent last week by the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups challenges the consultation because it fails to comply with the government’s own principles for consultation. The questions are ambiguous and misleading, say the groups, and the consultation fails to include other options apart from criminalising trespass. For example, there are no questions about making more site provision or alternatives to eviction such as negotiated stopping.

The groups also point out that, in the light of a recent legal ruling in favour of Gypsies and Travellers, the automatic criminalisation of trespass would be a breach of human rights and equality legislation. Last month, the Court of Appeal ruled against Bromley council’s “wide injunction” which banned Gypsies and Travellers from camping on open land in the borough.

The Judges concluded that “the Gypsy and Traveller community have an enshrined freedom not to stay in one place but to move from one place to another. An injunction which prevents them from stopping at all in a defined part of the UK comprises a potential breach of both the Convention and the Equality Act.”

‘The Court of Appeal judgment is very significant as it implies that criminalising trespass would be unlawful. The ruling was very timely given the current consultation, which has been criticised previously by our organisations and in the media. The judgment brings another strong consideration for the Home Office to take into account’, says Ilinca Diaconescu, LGT’s Policy Officer.

The other organisations which signed the letter are: Friends, Families and Travellers; Traveller Movement; Leeds GATE; Travelling Ahead; Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group; Irish Community Care; GATE Herts; York Travellers Trust; ACERT; Brentwood Gypsy Support Group and Liberty.

More news

New London Plan finally adopted

March 17, 2021

The London Plan 2021 was published on 2nd March 2021, setting policies for how London will develop over the next 10 years. In February 2019, Gypsies and Travellers spoke up for housing rights at the Plan’s examination hearing. The Plan includes a policy on Gypsy and Traveller accommodation which requires London Boroughs to meet need …

New Bill threatens nomadic way of life

March 15, 2021

A broad group of over 200 organisations supporting human rights have sent a letter today to the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Justice to express profound concerns about the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill published on 9th March. LGT is one of the co-signatories of the letter which highlights the devastating …

Achievements in a unique year

February 9, 2021

Members of the Gypsy and Traveller community joined staff and trustees online for the LGT Annual General Meeting last week, to hear about a unique year for the organisation and the community in London. Presentations at the Zoom event, also streamed live on Facebook, described how COVID-19 had affected Gypsies and Travellers, and how LGT …