The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Surrey, David Munro, has today written directly to government urging them to address the issue of unauthorized Traveller encampments.
The PCC is the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) national lead for Equalities, Diversity and Human Rights which includes Gypsies, Roma and Travellers (GRT).
This year there has been an unprecedented number of unauthorised encampments across the country causing considerable strain on police resources, increased community tensions in some areas and associated clean-up costs.
The PCC has now written to the Home Secretary and the Secretaries of State for the Ministry of Justice and Department for Communities and Local Government asking them to lead the way in commissioning a wide-ranging and detailed report on this issue.
In the letter, he calls on the government to examine a number of key areas including: a better understanding of Traveller movements, improved cooperation and a more consistent approach between police forces and local government and a renewed drive to make greater provision for transit sites.
PCC Munro said: “Unauthorised encampments not only put significant pressure on police and partner agencies, but they can also cause heightened community tensions and resentment.
“Whilst it is only a minority that cause negativity and disruption, the whole GRT community is too often victimised and can suffer widespread discrimination as a result.
“To tackle this complex issue, we need to work together – we need a nationally coordinated approach and must use collective powers to address these unauthorised encampments whilst offering alternative measures to support everyone’s needs and chosen living arrangements.
“I’ve consulted informally with my PCC colleagues and they’re also keen for a joined-up approach to tackle the management and root causes of these encampments. I’m keen that we do not lose sight of the law and our primary aim remains safeguarding vulnerable people.
“Amongst other reasons, unauthorised encampments are often a result of insufficient supply of permanent or transit pitches. Therefore my call to government is to seriously address these challenging issues and carefully examine what can be done to provide a better solution for all communities.”
Click here to read the full letter.