West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson hosted a summit on unauthorised traveller camps – producing an action plan to tackle the region-wide issues.
 
Greater protection for private businesses, the increased use of official transit sites with electricity and bathrooms and one set of protocols for all councils and the police to follow are among the aims.
 
The summit, which was attended by MPs, other PCCs, senior police officers, council officials and members of the travelling community, heard how the number of unauthorised sites in the West Midlands has risen from 189 to 395 since 2011.
 
The five-point action plan is as follows:
  • One set of protocols for the police and West Midlands councils

  • Clear, concise, real-time information that is easily shared.

  • Joined-up approach to identify and secure at-risk sites.

  • Explore the option of ‘negotiated stopping’
  • Use of transit sites
  • Ensure local councils provide adequate transit sites, which are designated temporary spaces with electricity and bathrooms.
  • Explore the option of ’emergency stopping places’.
  • The Land Commission should consider provision for the travelling community in its spatial strategy deliberations.
  • Better protection for private businesses
  • Stronger police powers for private businesses that currently incur all costs if an unauthorised encampment sets up on its land.
  • Campaign to make it a criminal offence to occupy business premises
  • Share staff
  • Share staff across councils to be more efficient and effective, especially out of hours.
  • Have single points of contact to make it easy for partners and to build up relations in travelling communities.
  • Better cross-border work in the wider West Midlands
  • Improve the way information is shared across West Midlands borders.
  • Look at how the WMCA could improve this via its non-constituent members.

 
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson organised the summit following years of frustration from all concerned at the lack of a solution that works for everyone. It looked at what works for both the settled population and travelling communities, what doesn’t and what additional powers are needed for local agencies. It was held today (Friday Feb 10) at police HQ, Lloyd House in Birmingham.
 
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “At the moment, we are not doing the right job in the right way for everybody – this summit helped us see that and move forward on a more productive path.

“We need to have clarity on this issue and the summit has helped us achieve that. We need to be more intelligence-led and share data between all agencies involved.

“At the moment, the situation isn’t working – for both the settled population and the travelling community. But we now have a set of practical action points we can work on to improve things for everybody.”
 
You can watch the meeting in full  here.

*Update: the full report can now be found here.

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