Today, the Joint Committee on Human Rights released its report on Part 4 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill. In its current form, the PCSC Bill would see the criminalisation of trespass and the strengthening of police powers against roadside camps.
The criminalisation of trespass will mean that only one vehicle will be required to be on the land before the new powers will apply once the triggering conditions are met. Offenders could face a £2500 fine or time in prison or the vehicle (someone’s home and belongings) being confiscated.
Friends, Families and Travellers made its submission to the Committee in April, which outlined the potential impact of the above changes on Gypsy and Traveller communities.
In its report on Part 4 of the Bill, the Joint Committee on Human Rights states that:
- Unauthorised encampments could be better dealt with by the provision of more pitches and sites;
- The Government should reintroduce the statutory duty on local authorities to make adequate provision for sites for Gypsy and Traveller communities;
- The Bill should be changed so that a criminal offence is only committed where an adequate site had been made available by the local authority;
- The Bill should be changed so that a vehicle cannot be seized if it is a person’s principal home and they would have nowhere else to live;
- The Government should ensure that any vague language within the Bill should be made sufficiently clear;
- Conditions within the Bill that are entirely based on ‘potential’ acts and impacts should be removed.
Speaking about the report, Abbie Kirkby, Public Affairs and Policy Manager at Friends, Families and Travellers said:
“We welcome the Joint Committee on Human Rights report, which rightly calls on the Government to take site provision more seriously by placing a duty on local authorities to provide sites.
We are pleased to see that the Committee recognises how the Government’s current draconian measures will force Gypsy and Traveller communities into the impossible situation of potentially committing the crime of having nowhere to go.”
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]
‘Legislative Scrutiny: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (Part 4): The criminalisation of unauthorised encampments’. Joint Committee on Human Rights. July 2021. View here.
‘Briefing on new police powers for encampments in Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: Part 4’. Friends, Families and Travellers. May 2021. View here.
‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’. House of Commons. March 2021. View here.