What the Government was supposed to do
The European Commission asked all member states to produce a Roma Integration Strategy. The UK Government declined to do this but instead set up a Ministerial Working Group chaired by Eric Pickles MP. That Group published a ‘Progress Report’ in April 2012, but has been notably silent since then.
Concealing the evidence
Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in November 2013 asking how many meetings of the Group had occurred since April 2012 and how many were currently scheduled to take place. The DCLG declined to provide this information claiming that Ministers needed ‘free space’ and that disclosing information about meetings could harm the ‘frankness and candour of internal discussion’. FFT referred this to the Information Commissioner who directed DCLG to provide the information.
Forced to ‘fess up
The information was provided to FFT on 29 October and we now know that no meetings of the so-called ‘Working Group’ have taken place since April 2012 and none are scheduled.
The attempt to cover up the utter lack of Ministerial interest in this issue is more disgraceful than the inactivity itself and an insult to the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities within the UK.
Let’s uncover the cover up
The Government doesn’t want you to know about this but we think you should be able to, so please share this far and wide. Thank you.
Note: In the European context, Roma specifically includes Gypsies and Irish Travellers