FFT response to Home Office announcement of consultation on criminalising trespass

On Sunday 3rd November, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the government is to begin consulting on making trespass a criminal offence.

Friends Families and Travellers response:

“We completely oppose the Home Office announcement of a consultation on criminalising trespass. It is clear that the proposals would have a devastating impact on Gypsy and Traveller communities, who have been part of British life since before the 16th century, yet face some of the greatest inequalities of any group in England and Wales.

The Home Secretary’s assertions that unauthorised encampments “cause misery to those who live nearby, with reports of damage to property, noise, abuse and littering” focus on the behaviour of a minority, yet tar all Gypsies and Travellers with the same brush. This is dangerous and discriminatory rhetoric. If property damage, noise, abuse and littering truly are the Home Office’s concerns, we know that there already exists reams of criminal law to prevent and punish this.

It is no coincidence that this announcement comes in the wake of a general election. If there was a real appetite to address the issue of unauthorised encampments, the government would have invested in site provision. Yet, for over a decade we have seen little to no progress in this area. Criminalising families who have no place to go is inhumane and wrong.”

Kate Green MP for Stretford and Urmston and Co-Chair to the APPG for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma response:

“The All Party Parliamentary Group has offered extensive evidence to Ministers explaining why the criminalisation of trespass and tougher action simply miss the point. The powers already exist to address unauthorised stopping, as the police themselves have acknowledged. Investment is needed in legitimate stopping places, rather than an increasingly punitive approach is deeply unfair to Traveller communities who have nowhere to go..”

Notes for Editor

About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.

Media Contact

Sarah Sweeney, Policy and Communications Manager

Tel: 01273 234 038          Email: sarahsweeney@gypsy-traveller.org

Relevant resources

‘Government consults on new police powers to criminalise unauthorised encampments’ – read here.

Last updated Nov 5, 2019

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