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 consequences of the new legislation that is rapidly being pushed through Parliament. These include an attack on the fundamental rights to protest peacefully.

For Gypsies and Travellers the most alarming part of the Bill is the introduction of a criminal offence for ‘residing, or intending to reside on land without consent in or with a vehicle’. Simply put, anyone stopping in a vehicle without permission on land they don’t own will face imprisonment, fines and having their property taken away. Due to the lack of sufficient sites and stopping places across the country, this will mean that a whole community will be criminalised for having nowhere to go.

Even more worrying is the language used to describe this offence, which is highly open to interpretation. Anyone who is considered ‘likely’ to cause damage or disruption when stopping on a piece of land would be breaking the law. If police constables have a ‘reasonable suspicion’ to consider someone is breaking the law, they would be able to seize their property.

Given the deeply rooted prejudice and negative views of Gypsies and Travellers held across society, there is huge potential for this new legislation to be abused. Far from penalising a ‘small minority’ of people involved in anti-social behaviour, the new offence is a threat to the nomadic way of life.

As the Bill goes through the Parliamentary process in the next weeks, we will be working with other organisations to continue opposing the measures and we’ll give more updates for community members and other allies who want to get involved.

You can find the open letter here.

Friends, Families and Travellers have produced a briefing about the proposals here.

 

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 …

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 …

Injunctions under review

December 16, 2020

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 …