In their latest Broadcast and On Demand Bulletin, Ofcom have announced the launch of an investigation into the Channel 4 Show “Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime”. The show, which has received wide criticism from members of the public, will be investigated for potential breaches of content standards for television and radio. Channel 4 have since removed the show from their on demand and catch up service.
In response to the show, Friends Families and Travellers (FFT) launched a letter of complaint to Channel 4 and Ofcom on their website which was signed by 7391 people. The webpage hosting the complaint form received more views in a day than any page in the history of the FFT website.
In response to the news, Sarah Sweeney, Policy and Communications Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:
“We welcome the investigation by Ofcom – it is vital that justice is done for Gypsy and Traveller communities. In the weeks since the show has been aired, we have heard from countless members of Gypsy and Traveller communities who feel sentenced as criminals simply because of their ethnicity. It is not an entire community that commits a crime, it is an individual. Yet, this show put the whole of the Traveller community on trial by press. The way the communities were spoken about was dehumanising, unbalanced and unfair. We have seen a wave of hate speech as a result. Channel 4 must face the consequences of their actions.”
Speaking in the aftermath of the show, Kerry* who is from the travelling community said:
“The C4 programme literally said that we’re [Travellers] people who do crime. After the programme went up I had gorja (settled) friends and family ringing asking whether it was true. Some of them knew better, but other people were judging me for it. I work in a nice place, but my work don’t know that I’m a Traveller, I don’t tell them because of programmes like this. If people knew that I was a Traveller, things would be completely different. That’s the kind of thing we have to do because of programmes like this. In a job I had before, I told them after a while that I’m a Traveller and they took responsibilities away from me, they wouldn’t let me do things on my own anymore. That’s what programmes like this do to us. I was on the team that produced the flowers for Harry and Meghan’s wedding, but I never thought I could tell people who I was.”
Also speaking in the aftermath of the show, Maureen* who is from the travelling community said:
“People who we used to call neighbours and friends have asked us how we got the money to set up our business – is it that we’ve been robbing ATMs or breaking into people’s houses? It’s hard to answer, I want to be polite, but I’m angry, it’s upsetting. I’m 62. I don’t rob or steal. There’s good and bad in everybody. I don’t think Channel 4 can make up for this. It takes so much to win back people’s trust.”
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.
Lucy Hetherington, Communications Officer
Tel: 07425 419853 Email: [email protected]
FFT response to Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime’. View here.
FFT complaint to Ofcom and Channel 4 regarding ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime.’ View here.
Complaint letter signed by 7391 members of the public regarding ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime.’ View here.
APPG for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma letter to Ofcom regarding ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime.’ View here.
Equality and Human Rights Commission statement on ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime.’ View here.
* Names have been changed to protect anonymity.