FFT response to Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime’

On the evening of Thursday 16th April 2020, Channel 4 chose to broadcast a show, ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime’.

In response to the broadcast, Sarah Mann, Director of Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“It is not an entire community that commits a crime, it is an individual. Yet, this show has put the whole of the Traveller community on trial by press. The way the community was spoken about was dehumanising, unbalanced and unfair. One in 200 people in the UK are from the Traveller communities – this includes nurses, doctors, social workers, police and more. Yet, because of the way the show was framed, everyone is assumed guilty for the actions of a few. Poorly researched and sensationally delivered shows like this inevitably lead to an increase in discrimination and hate crime. As a result, over 3000 people have already asked us to complain on their behalf to Ofcom and Channel 4.”

After the show last night, Friends, Families and Travellers launched a complaint letter to Channel 4 and Ofcom, which already has over 3000 signatures. This follows news that Traveller Movement lodged a pre-action legal letter with Channel 4 yesterday afternoon.

Responding to the programme, James Carver, member of the Romany Gypsy community and former MEP for the West Midlands said:

“Last night’s Channel 4 stitch up on Travellers was about some very bad apples. The problems aren’t en masse and no more so than elsewhere. When is the follow up show about Gypsy nurses, police officers, carers, VC winners, RSPCA inspectors, teachers, politicians and charity workers?” 

Elizabeth Yardley, Professor of Criminology at Birmingham City University, who was featured in the show said:

“Social groups labelled as ‘deviant’ and ‘other’ are all too often used as distraction from the wider causes of social problems like crime. This serves to further marginalise them and avoid tackling the real issues driving crime rates – like poverty, inequality and deprivation. That these communities suffer significant discrimination and victimization via racism and hate crime is rarely acknowledged.”

In response to the show, Louise Condon, Professor of Nursing, Swansea University, said:

“People’s physical and mental health is put at risk by unfair accusations against their communities. Crime exists in all communities, disproportionately among the most disadvantaged- Channel 4 must take care not to demonise this minority ethnic group who already experience high levels of discrimination and hate crime.”

Commenting on the programme, Tyler Hatwell, Psychotherapist and founder of Traveller Pride, said:

“The pretense of balance in the programme was flimsy beyond belief. To make a an hour long diatribe on Traveller Crime featuring only two Traveller voices included and to hold it all together with anonymous anecdotes and tissue-thin statistics but still stitch it together as if Travellers are universally thugs is not documentary film-making but pandering to already established narratives regardless of the facts. It’s sad that at time when it’s harder than ever to be a Traveller in this country, and yet where we’re seeing acts of generosity to our fellow man and NHS from Travellers throughout the country, a more nuanced portrait couldn’t be painted. It would’ve been possible to have looked at crime in a useful way, one that examined context, history, deprivation, but this film took the lowest hanging fruit, put in the minimum effort and set us back another 5 years.”

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

Lucy Hetherington, Communications Officer

Tel: 07425 419853                             Email: lucy@gypsy-traveller.org

Useful resources

FFT initial response to Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches: The Truth About Traveller Crime’. View here.

Dispatches: Submit your complaint to Channel 4 and Ofcom. View here.

Last updated Apr 17, 2020

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