Police powers amount to ‘political attack’ on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

What could the proposed laws in the #PolicingBill mean for Gypsies and Travellers? Mattey Mitchell, Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers shares in this video:

The Government is planning to bring in harsh new laws for nomadic people. We have launched a new tool to support Gypsies, Travellers and members of the public to write to their MP, registering their concerns about the policing bill. We need your help.

Write to to your MP today 👉 https://action.gypsy-traveller.org/pa…

In this video, Mattey Mitchell, Campaigns Officer at Friends, Families and Travellers introduces the new proposed laws which would mean people who live on roadside camps could face time in prison, a £2500 fine or their home being taken from them. The new laws are widely open to interpretation and likely to impact upon everyone who is or wishes to live nomadically – by culture, choice or necessity.

If you want to have your story heard by the public and politicians, in a way that feels safe to you, contact Lucy on 07425 419853 or email lucy@gypsy-traveller.org

Find more information on the bill here: https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/campa…

Friends, Families and Travellers: https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/​​https://twitter.com/GypsyTravellers​​https://www.facebook.com/FriendsFamil…https://www.instagram.com/friendsfami…

Justice Gap: The new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill could lead to the criminalisation of the nomadic way of life, a cross-party group of MPs and peers heard yesterday. The the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Gypsies and Travellers meeting was held to discuss the impact of the Bill on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The Bill introduces a new criminal offence where trespassers have the intent to reside, and empowers police to seize vehicles, and carries potential fine or imprisonment and proposals would also amend police powers of eviction under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, broadening the types of harm that can be caught to include damage, disruption and distress.

A briefing on the Bill issued on the 24 March by Abby Kirkby, Secretariat to the APPG, argued that the legislation would give the Police wide-ranging powers based on highly subjective criteria. Highlighting the disproportionate impact on minority and ethnic communities, which could bring the legislation in conflict with equality and human rights legislation, the briefing pointed out that Police Forces themselves disagree with the allocation of additional powers. Criminal sanctions deflect from the real issue. At the bare minimum, GRT communities need pitches where they can live safely & in a way that respects their nomadic way of life. Not criminalisation.

Meanwhile, concerns were raised that the Bill will entrench existing inequalities faced by the GRT communities, and that the Bill will serve to push Gypsies and Travellers into the criminal justice system. Speaking at the meeting, CLP solicitor Chris Johnson said: ‘You’re not immediately a criminal by this legislation, but you can very easily be made a criminal.’ The criminalisation of trespass was the subject of a debate at the House of Commons yesterday afternoon at 4:30, after a petition organised by author and policy coordinator for Rewilding Britain gained 134,000 signatures. MP for the City of Durham Mary Foy, an attendee of the APPG meeting, spoke at the debate: ‘We have a racism problem when a section of our society is blamed and targeted relentlessly… We should be honest about what this is, a political attack on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities.’

Zohra Nabi, Justice Gap, https://is.gd/21dCRo