On the 8th March, the Home Secretary Priti Patel grossly misrepresented the reality of the Government’s provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites to Parliament.
In the Home Secretary’s Ministerial Statement, Priti Patel said, “As of January 2020, the number of lawful Traveller sites increased by 41% from January 2010…” and this is now being used widely by Conservative MPs in their responses to constituents calling for the scrapping of harsh new laws against roadside camps.
The above statement contradicts the Government’s own response to the consultation on strengthening police powers. In the response, the 41% refers to an increase in transit pitches.
Priti Patel’s Statement fails to include the key reference to ‘transit’. The consultation response also refers to pitches and the Home Secretary wrongly refers to ‘lawful sites’.
A ‘pitch’ is a household unit and a ‘site’ is a piece of land with several pitches on it, and ‘transit’ provision only allows a very limited time for stopping.
This misrepresentation of the figures implies a much bigger increase in site provision than is actually true. In fact, the Government’s own figures show that from 2010 – 2020 there has been an 8.4% decrease of local authority pitches.
Whilst there has been a 39.9% increase in transit pitches over the last 10 years, this amounts to just 101 pitches or 10 pitches a year.
Speaking on the Home Secretary’s non-truth, Abbie Kirkby, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:
“The Home Secretary misleading Parliament on the Government’s ‘progress’ over the past 10 years demonstrates either a lack of knowledge on the subject, wilful ignorance or convenient manipulation. This isn’t just about Parliament but it’s about misleading the public at large.
To paint a rosy picture on site provision is far from the truth and completely wrong for the Home Secretary to use this to justify the actions of Government which in this instance will criminalise entire communities and their way of life.”
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.
Sami McLaren, Communications Officer
Tel: 07436 228910 Email: [email protected]
‘FFT response to Home Office statement on trespass’. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2021. View here.
‘Briefing on new police powers for encampments in Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: Part 4’. Friends, Families and Travellers. March 2021. View here.
‘Stand against harsh new laws for roadside camps’ – Email your MP here.