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Scrap Gypsy, Roma and Traveller officer jobs says report


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It also calls for police chiefs to re-issue guidelines on addressing racist behaviour towards travellers.

Lancashire Police at a dawn raid at a traveller camp on Leverhulme Park in Bolton

Lancashire Police at a dawn raid at a traveller camp on Leverhulme Park in Bolton


A charity has called for a review into whether the police gypsy and traveller liaison officer role may be breaching the Equality act.

The Traveller Movement’s (TM) report released last month, based on surveys and freedom of information requests to the 43 territorial forces, raised concerns travellers are being marginalised by an attitude among police officers that they are more likely to commit crime.

Of the 20 forces who told TM they have a dedicated GRT officer, 12 mentioned enforcement against unauthorised encampments and/or place GRT communities alongside thematic issues such as anti-social behaviour, gangs, youth violence etc.

The remaining eight focused on building positive relationships with gypsies and travellers.

Former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, the current chairman of Kick it Out and council member of the Institute for Race Relations Lord Ouseley said in a foreword to the report “it is not difficult to see why there is a lack of trust [between travellers and police]”.

He wrote: “Police officers have reported derogatory and racist language used by colleagues against GRT people being insufficiently dealt with by internal police procedures; an Irish traveller woman said she was asked by a police officer – 'why are the majority of gypsies and travellers criminals?'

“Such a question is typical of the negative, stereotypical assumptions held by many about Britain’s GRT communities.

“Unfortunately, such assumptions have permeated institutional structures and procedures. For example, participants in this research described more police turning up to deal with an incident involving GRT people than would if non-GRT people were involved, demonstrating that ethnicity is sometimes treated as a risk factor.

“In addition, where there are police roles exclusively dedicated to GRT communities these are more likely to focus on enforcement to the exclusion of engagement, perpetuating the idea that criminality is associated with GRT individuals.

“It is not right that some people have a more negative experience of public institutions such as the police simply because they belong to a particular ethnic group – this has to change.”

The report called for an HMIC root and branch review of each force assessing “institutional bias”, a collaboration between police, licensing authorities and Pubwatch to ensure travellers cannot be denied entry to pubs based on their ethnicity and for the National Police Chiefs’ Council to re-issue advice on addressing racist behaviour towards GRT communities.

It also wants more money given to minority police staff associations, efforts to increase GRT hate crime reporting and more reliance on neighbourhood policing teams to forge relationships with traveller communities.

A male PC interviewed for the report recalled a colleague commenting “dead gypsy, good gypsy.”

“I complained to the sergeant and he [said]…’they are not racist, they are just very frustrated’."

Another male PC of GRT background told the TM “…. All of those [police] procedures, practices, behaviours run along the lines that these are criminal groups. It’s our job to deal with criminals, therefore it’s our job to deal with these people.”

Last week the NPCC and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) submitted a joint response to a government consultation on whether police need more powers to deal with illegal encampments and called for more official traveller sites.

Police Oracle contacted the NPCC and APCC but both were unable to respond in time for our deadline.

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Last time I looked Leverhulme Park in Bolton was in the GMP. I believe that statistics always showed that if a Gypsy, Traveller site set up in an area then so did crime increase in the area. I have yet to meet any itinerant travellers who had the slightest respect for the Communities that they set camp in. They would set up camp anywhere, parks, sports areas, fields, anywhere. The only regular result was the huge amount of refuse and filth left behind, costing  a fortune to clear up. I could always understand why residents resented them and their behaviour.

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A few years ago a group had stolen quite a number of expensive power tools from a DIY superstore and were being pursued by the police. It had been a brazen and quite comprehensive and expensive theft. When it became clear the group was heading towards a renown gypsy/traveller camp at that time, with renown violence being shown against the police and other authority figures, Control ordered an immediate stand down. The only time I heard Control say 'do not repeat do not' more often was when, on a separate occasion, youths had been seen on electrified railway lines.

So yes, there is racism when it comes gypsies and travellers. I know it first hand. Unfortunately, it's against the rest of the population. And the gypsies/travellers know it.

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