On Thursday 17th December 2020, a major case management hearing will take place ahead of an upcoming High Court case on anti-Traveller wide injunctions, due to be held in January 2021.
Since 2015, councils have increasingly used injunctions to prevent Gypsies and Travellers from stopping on council-owned land. The majority of people who pull up on land in this way have nowhere else to go due to councils’ failure to identify land for sites and stopping places.
Despite this, anyone found to be breaking an anti-Traveller injunction faces criminal action. A landmark Court of Appeal ruling in the London Borough of Bromley V Persons Unknown and London Gypsies and Travellers case, denied Bromley Council’s injunction against “Persons Unknown” and set strict criteria for local authorities to meet before applying for these injunctions, such as providing transit sites.
After the Bromley ruling, Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT), the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups (NFGLG) and London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) with support from Moving for Change and the Baring Foundation instructed Community Law Partnership (CLP) to make submissions at hearings where councils were attempting to extend their injunctions. This led to Harlow, Enfield and Canterbury councils withdrawing their injunctions.
Following a significant judgment in the case of Canada Goose V Persons Unknown and PETA, Justice Nicklin found many councils with invalid injunctions as well as a number of issues on injunctions against ‘Persons Unknown’, warranting further investigation.
The case management hearing on 17th December follows another order from Justice Nicklin to more than 30 councils with wide injunctions to show they are complying with the Bromley ruling criteria.
The hearing will determine which local authorities will continue pursuing their injunctions, which legal issues regarding injunctions will be scrutinised and what other interested parties can give evidence at the January hearing. FFT, LGT and the NFGLG have applied be ‘joint interveners’ to give evidence on the wider impact these injunctions have on Gypsies and Travellers.
Speaking about the upcoming case management hearing, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers:
“These injunctions are a symptom of the complete failure by local authorities to identify suitable land on which Gypsies and Travellers can stop. Without offering alternative stopping places, local authorities instead opt for a catch-all approach that does nothing but demonise, Other and vilify nomadic communities.
We are pleased to see that all local authorities with wide injunctions will now be investigated for compliance. Everyone deserves somewhere to call home, where they are able to live with dignity, respect and without fear of reprisal.”
Ilinca Diaconescu, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator at London Gypsies & Travellers added:
“We’re encouraged by how this case has developed so far and that injustices caused by these injunctions are now being highlighted. This case has the potential to put an end to discriminatory wide injunctions against the community. We hope this will help shift local authorities’ approach from evictions and criminalisation to providing the sites and stopping places that are urgently needed.”
Watch our video to find out more about wide injunctions and how they affect Gypsies and Travellers