Straw doing nothing about travellers

25 August 2000

Straw ‘doing nothing’ about travellers

By FWi staff

THE government has done nothing to stop travellers intimidating communities and destroying property, say the Conservatives.

Launching a Common Sense on Travellers policy, shadow environment secretary Archie Norman accused Home Secretary Jack Straw of dither and delay.

Mr Norman said people feel powerless when in the face of destructive travellers and believe the authorities can do nothing to help.

All Jack Straw has done is to say he is getting tough and then cut the police numbers by almost three thousand meaning there are precious few officers to enforce existing laws.

It is time to show some common sense and take action against those people whose actions break the law and negatively effect the publics perception of the entire travelling community.

Conservative proposals include:

  • Tackling open breaches of the law by travellers — including trespass
  • A fast-track, one-stop legal procedure to streamline evictions
  • Three-month radius bans, preventing travellers returning to a site
  • Withdrawal of income support from travellers who refuse to move
  • Reforms to make it easier for landowners to gain compensation for damage to property

    Mr Normans comments come after a number of confrontations between farmers and travellers in recent weeks.

    In two occasions producers sprayed slurry onto fields occupied by travellers after they refused to leave.

    Desperate Somerset farmer Derek Mead said he was forced to take this action because police refused to move a group on and local feelings were running high.

    A Gypsy Council spokesman said the root of the problem was a shortage of official sites.

    The Home Office has recently issued guidelines which say police do not have to wait for a crime to take place before they can act against unauthorised encampments.

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