West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has welcomed the announcement from the government today that it will be consulting on his recommendations tighten the laws on unauthorised traveller encampments.
However, he has said the government must move quickly to halt the stress which illegal encampments can cause to the settled community and are giving the law-abiding travellers who are in the majority a bad name.
The PCC is urging the government to look at ways to strengthen the law to give councils and police more powers to remove unauthorised encampments. Another key recommendation is for councils to gain access to government funding to build transit sites.
However, these powers do not go far enough as police can only direct unauthorised encampments to transit sites within the same borough.
When the government announced the consultation today, Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said,
“It is good news that the government are finally looking to take action to tackle unauthorised traveller encampments. Just before Christmas, I met with the Minister and MPs to share my recommendations and I am glad that the government have listened to us.
“I will continue to work with MPs to ensure that action comes from this consultation takes place in their constituencies.
“The Home Office is more than welcome to use the recommendations which I have already announced to tackle problems with these illegal encampments who give a bad name to the many law-abiding members of the travellers who are in the majority.”
Sandwell Council were the first borough to take up the recommendation for a transit site which was used for the first time in February. At the time David Jamieson said,
“Sandwell Council’s decision to take up my recommendation and build a transit site is driving down the number of unauthorised encampments and giving police the powers to take action.
“Those breaking the law are now banned from the borough for three months. This tough action is what the public has been calling for.”
Following the success of Sandwell Council’s transit site which saw unauthorised traveller encampments fall by half last year the PCC is hoping that other councils will follow suit and alongside the Mayor will be able to make the West Midlands free from unauthorised encampments.
The PCC’s recommendations for changes in the law are:
•Expand section 62A powers to allow police to direct unauthorised encampments to transit sites across local authority boundaries.
•Where civil court evictions have been recently achieved, make repeat trespass on private (business) premises by unauthorised encampments a criminal offence.
•Allow the joint pursuit of trespass injunctions against named persons by neighbouring local authorities or combined authorities.
PCC David Jamieson meeting with the Minister and MPs to discuss Unauthorised Encampments
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