Publication type: Information
Author: Friends, Families and Travellers
Themes: Accommodation, Planning
The system of twice-yearly counts of Gypsy and Traveller caravans and families was introduced in England in 1979. Local authorities carry out the count and return figures to the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). At the time the count was introduced county councils, metropolitan districts and London Boroughs were under a statutory duty to provide adequate accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers residing in and resorting to their areas (Caravan Sites Act 1968 Part II). The count was intended to estimate the size of the Gypsy and Traveller populations for whom provision was to be made and to monitor progress towards meeting the provisions of the 1968 Act. Part II of the 1968 Act, and thus the duty to provide, was repealed in 1994 by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. The count system continues unchanged.
Between 1989 and 1991 the (then) Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) carried out extensive research into the count system following various criticisms from official agencies and Gypsy representative groups as to the system’s adequacy and accuracy. In the course of the research, OPCS examined how local authorities carried out the count and how the count information was used. Researchers developed and tested an alternative series of count forms designed to collect fuller and more consistent information. The report Counting Gypsies was published in 1991 (Green 1991), but the recommendations have not been implemented.
In spring 2003, DCLG commissioned the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Birmingham to carry out a desk study to update the OPCS report. This followed continuing criticism of the count.