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Councils in High Court over anti-Traveller injunctions

On Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th January 2021, a significant High Court case on anti-Traveller wide injunctions will take place.

The hearing follows a case management hearing which took place in December 2020.

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 on land in this way have nowhere else to go due to councils’ failure to identify land for sites and stopping places.

Despite this, anyone found to be breaking an anti-Traveller injunction faces criminal action. A landmark Court of Appeal ruling in the London Borough of Bromley V Persons Unknown and London Gypsies and Travellers case, denied Bromley Council’s application for an injunction against “Persons Unknown” and set strict criteria for local authorities to meet in order to get this kind of injunction, such as providing transit sites.

After the Bromley ruling, Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT), the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups (NFGLG) and London Gypsies and Travellers (LGT) with support from Moving for Change and the Baring Foundation instructed Community Law Partnership (CLP) to make submissions at hearings where councils were attempting to obtain this type of injunction or extend existing injunctions. This led to Harlow, Enfield and Canterbury councils withdrawing their injunctions.

Following a significant judgment in the case of Canada Goose V Persons Unknown and PETA, Justice Nicklin found many councils with invalid injunctions as well as a number of issues on injunctions against ‘Persons Unknown’, warranting further investigation.

The case management hearing led to 22 local authorities dropping their wide injunctions, leaving just 16 local authorities who would carry on through to the final hearing in January.

Enfield council have now also withdrawn their application, leaving just 15 local authorities who will pursue their injunctions on Wednesday. Working with Garden Court Chambers and Community Law Partnership, FFT, LGT and the NFGLG are ‘joint interveners’ in the case and will give evidence on the wider impact these injunctions have on Gypsies and Travellers.

Speaking about the upcoming High Court case, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers:

“These injunctions are a symptom of the complete failure by local authorities to identify suitable land on which Gypsies and Travellers can stop. Without offering alternative stopping places, local authorities instead opt for a catch-all approach that does nothing but demonise, Other and vilify nomadic communities.

We are pleased to see that all local authorities with wide injunctions will now be investigated for compliance. Everyone deserves somewhere to call home, where they are able to live with dignity, respect and without fear of reprisal.

Ilinca Diaconescu, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator at London Gypsies & Travellers added:

“We’re encouraged by how this case has developed so far and that injustices caused by these injunctions are now being highlighted. This case has the potential to put an end to discriminatory wide injunctions against the community. We hope this will help shift local authorities’ approach from evictions and criminalisation to providing the sites and stopping places that are urgently needed.”



Notes for Editor               

About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)

Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.

Media Contact

Sami McLaren, Communications Officer

Tel: 07436 228910 Email: [email protected]

Relevant Resources

‘Use of Injunctions criticised by Court of Appeal’. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2020. View here.

‘Number of councils seeking Anti-Traveller injunctions drops from 38 to 16 as court case begins’. Friends, Families and Travellers. December 2020. View here.

‘News about injunctions against camps’. London Gypsies & Travellers. December 2020. Watch here.

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