On 7th and 8th May 2019, the United Nations will be reviewing the UK Government’s compliance with the Convention against Torture. Friends, Families and Travellers and GATE Herts have submitted evidence which shows the government has failed to take sufficient preventative measures to protect Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities from hate crime, failed to gather sufficient data on incidences of anti-Gypsy hate crime and have invested in newspapers which promote hate against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
Research published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2018 evidenced that Gypsies, Roma and Travellers face the highest level of societal prejudice compared with all protected characteristic groups, yet there is no mention of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the prevention section of the government’s Hate Crime Action Plan.
Research by the Traveller Movement in 2018 found that police officers consider hate crime to be the most common issue Gypsies, Roma and Travellers report to them, but forces still do not record ethnicity of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities affected by hate crime. This makes it difficult to predict or prevent hate crime in geographic areas which have higher prevalence of hate crime or when specific events spark surges in hate crime.
In 2018, the UK government signed up to the UN Global Compact for Migration which contains a commitment to stop allocation of public funding in outlets that promote racism and discrimination. However, the UK government has continued to invest in newspapers which are the worst offenders for promoting racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants, including Roma communities. Speaking of his family’s experience of hate crime, John*, a father of four from the Romany Gypsy community said,
“It all changed when they found out we were Gypsies. My girls, they treated them differently at school. They called them names, they would come home crying you know. Things got a lot worse, I was watching Coronation Street with my daughters and a brick come through the window, it cut my girls leg. Then there was another attack on our house. The police never found out who it was, no one did anything about it. In the end we moved to a Traveller site far away and things are better now, the girls are among people from their own community, they feel like they belong now. That’s all I wanted for my girls, to feel they belong.”
Commenting on the proceedings, Josie O’Driscoll, Chief Officer at GATE Herts said,
“Hate crime is rife for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. We are inundated with reports of discrimination and hate directed at community members. We have developed a reporting mechanism to ensure reporting is logged and recorded but we know we are only getting a fraction of hate crime reported to us. People do not feel they can report to the police.”.
Commenting on the evidence raised to the United Nations, Victoria Stallwood, Policy and Project Worker at Friends Families and Travellers said,
“The fact that national hate crime data isn’t routinely collected for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities is appalling. Information is the most basic thing we can ask for from our Government. These gaps in the data masks extreme prejudice in our country and stifles efforts to challenge it.”
*Name changed to protect anonymity.
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.
Sarah Sweeney, Communications and Health Policy Co-ordinator
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