Police and Crime Commissioner calls for tougher laws to tackle illegally camped travellers

Ron Ball with PC Stuart Baker outside RFPS
Ron Ball with PC Stuart Baker outside RFPS

Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Ball has asked for tougher powers for police across the county to deal with illegally camped travellers more swiftly and effectively.

Most recently land in Hatton Park fell foul of illegally parked travellers and Mr Ball is asking the Government to change current legislation so that such incidents take less time to handle.

He said: “Before the last General Election, the then-Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said that the issue of travellers occupying land ‘requires attention as soon as we get a Conservative government re-elected’.

“To date, no new powers have been enacted and I would urge ministers to look at the situation here in Warwickshire to understand how the current limitations in the existing legislation handicap the police and local authorities in dealing swiftly with unauthorised encampments, particularly when they occur at sensitive locations.

“When travellers cause disruption to the local community - either intentionally or unintentionally - it can cause distress to local residents, some of whom feel intimidated by their presence.

“I have seen for myself the issues that some travellers have caused, including using public areas as toilets, which is totally unacceptable.

“Across the county, unauthorised encampments have incurred large clear up costs which are borne by the taxpayer which is also unacceptable.

“The problem is made worse by the fact that neither the local authority or the police have effective powers to swiftly move on such encampments when they occur or to recover such costs. “

I’m urging the Government to make good on their earlier promises to look at the situation and introduce new legislation.

“Currently it takes too long to obtain the necessary court orders to move people on and previous suggestions of special magistrates courts that can order evictions on weekends and during the night would be a significant step forward in speeding up the eviction process.”

Mr Ball added that not all travellers are intent on causing problems but the groups who behave irresponsibly - such as those who were at Hatton Park earlier this year - make it much more difficult to find accommodation sites around the county that communities will find acceptable.

“I have been more than happy to step in in the past to help find solutions which are acceptable to both the local community and to Travellers and Gypsies, such as the arrangements around Kenilworth Horse Fair,” he added.

“However, the situations we are now seeing occur regularly across the county are of an entirely different order and the community rightly asks that the police and local authorities deal with them effectively.

“All I am asking for us to have the right tools to be able to do that.”

The travellers at Hatton Park were moved on in August after they had camped on land near Mollington Grove.