Report published on progress made to improve the West Midlands response to unauthorised traveller encampments
Following a summit held by the Police and Crime Commissioner in
September, a report has been published on the progress made in
responding to unauthorised encampments. The event brought together
the police, local councils and groups representing travellers.
The PCC and councils have now published a report pledging
- Increase the number of transit sites, unlocking further police
powers while giving groups a legitimate place to stay.
- Agree a joint set of protocols when dealing with unauthorised
- Continue work with MPs to improve legislation, especially on
cross border working and to better protect private businesses.
Last year (2017) there was a small decrease in the number of
unauthorised encampments - falling to 414 - compared to 499 in
2016. There is expected to be a small fall again this year, with
244 reported up to August 2018. The PCC is clear that more work
still needs to be done.
One of the key recommendations from the last summit in 2017 was
the introduction of transit sites, which give police stronger
powers. In Sandwell, where a transit has already been introduced,
they have seen the number of unauthorised encampments fall from 84
in 2016, to 33 in 2017, with 17 so far this year. The PCC is
calling on other authorities to follow Sandwell's lead.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson,
"Effectively dealing with unauthorised traveller encampments is a
really important issue that requires us all to work together even
"Sandwell Council have led the way by introducing a transit site.
It has caused a massive reduction in the number of unauthorised
encampments in the borough and is saving the authority money. I am
pleased that other authorities are planning to follow their lead
and introduce sites too. By doing so the law allows the police to
act in a much more robust way, and the minority who cause problems
for everyone are banned from that borough for three months.
"I am pleased that other councils are following their lead.
"There is still much more to be done, but there is clear progress
being made across the West Midlands. This is a hugely important
issue that I will continue to push on.
"I also believe this is an issue that requires the Mayor to step
up to the plate and help to co-ordinate the regional response, so
we don't just shunt encampments from one borough to another."
Dealing with unauthorised encampments is costing councils
hundreds of thousands of pounds each year. The amounts vary across
local authorities, with Wolverhampton facing costs of around
£420,000 this year, compared to £238,000 last year. By contrast,
Sandwell has seen the greatest reduction in cost, which they
largely credit to their transit site. This is a reduction from
roughly £250,000 in the year prior to the PCC's summit, to an
ongoing anticipated cost of £10,000 a year associated with
unauthorised encampments. The cost of establishing their transit
site (£173,000) has more than paid for itself within the first
year. Costs in other areas also vary, with Birmingham at around
£250,000, Coventry at £64,000, Dudley at £55,000 and Solihull at
£140,000 last year.
A webcast of the summit can be found
The summit follows-up from a
similar event held by the PCC in February