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High Court declares parts of Police Act 2022 in breach of European Convention on Human Rights

Today, a High Court Judge declared key provisions in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 (Police Act 2022), which gave police the power to ban Gypsies and Travellers from an area for up to 12 months under sections 60C, 61 and 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, as incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention).

Through the Police Act 2022, police gained the power to ban Gypsies and Travellers from an area for up to 12 months, alongside powers to fine, arrest, imprison and seize the homes of Gypsies and Travellers on roadside camps.

In his landmark decision, the Judge issued a Declaration of Incompatibility for the extension of the power to ban changing from 3 to 12 months, finding that it discriminates against these communities without justification and breaches Article 14 rights when read with Article 8 of the Convention.

Consequently, Parliament will have to review those provisions to ensure compatibility with the Convention, in a serious blow to the Police Act 2022.

When giving his judgment, the Judge recognised that, “Any decision to seize and retain vehicles or caravans that are used as homes would quite clearly cause real hardship and would involve a very significant interference within interests falling within the ambit of Article 8.”

The Judge also noted that, “Use of these powers is capable of significant intrusion on the lives of Gypsies. The extent of possible interference is increased by the evidence of under provision of transit pitches.”

The High Court case was brought by Wendy Smith, a Romany woman, as Claimant, with Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) and Liberty acting as Interveners.

FFT has consistently raised concerns on the PCSC Act’s legal standing, as well as to its draconian attack on Gypsies and Travellers living on roadside camps due to a lack of safe stopping places.

FFT was represented by Parminder Sanghera of Community Law Partnership (CLP), and Stephen Simblet KC and Nadia O’Mara of Garden Court Chambers (GCC).

Wendy Smith was represented by Chris Johnson of CLP, and Marc Willers KC and Ollie Persey of GCC.

On the High Court ruling, Abbie KirkbyHead of Policy and Public Affairs at Friends, Families and Travellers said:

“The new police powers are part of a wider hostile environment against Gypsies and Travellers, particularly for families who have nowhere else to stop.

But, today’s ruling is a triumph for Gypsy and Traveller people, against one of the government’s flagship policies.

Whilst some of the main provisions in the Act remain, they have been significantly diluted by this ruling.

We extend our congratulations to Wendy Smith and commend her bravery in standing up for what’s right.”

Marc Willers KC of Garden Court Chambers, declared that:

“This is hugely significant judgment.

In granting the Declaration of Incompatibility, the Court recognised that there is a lack of lawful stopping places for Gypsies and Travellers and that unless the government increases provision, the law as currently drafted will amount to unjustified race discrimination.”



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

Communications Team

Tel: 07436 228910 Email: [email protected]

Relevant Resources

[2024] EWHC 1137 (Admin). Mr Justice Swift. Birmingham Civil and Family Justice Centre. 2024. Judgment.

‘Government to be challenged in High Court over ‘discriminatory’ PCSC Act. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2024. Read.

‘Kicking the can down the road: New report on site provision over the past 60 years’. Friends, Families and Travellers. November 2023. View report.

‘Police Act: What you need to know’. Friends, Families and Travellers. June 2022. View here.

‘FFT Statement on Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’. Friends, Families and Travellers. April 2022. Read.

‘New research shows huge unmet need for pitches on Traveller sites in England’. Friends, Families and Travellers. January 2021. View here.

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