New guidance to help communities tackle anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers

UK Government publishes “Guidance on managing anti-social behaviour related to Gypsies and Travellers”

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The British government department for Communities and Local Government has published at the end of March 2010 a document entitled “Guidance on managing anti-social behaviour related to Gypsies and Travellers” and this once again shows that it seems totally acceptable to, time and again, make reference to “Gypsies and Travellers” when it comes to crime and anti-social behavior but you can all bet we would never see anything like that with Afro-Caribbean, Asian or Jews in the title.

Local councils need to work more closely with other agencies to address anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers, Communities Secretary John Denham said at the launch of the document on March 23, 2010.

As with all communities, he said, only a small minority of Gypsies and Travellers behave anti-socially and their mobile lifestyle can exacerbate this - but perceptions that the community is not dealt with the same as other communities damage public confidence about fair treatment for all.

This guidance for local authorities, the police and other agencies, sets out the strong powers that are available to them in dealing with anti-social behaviour associated with Gypsies and Travellers – whether they are the perpetrators or the victims – and where possible preventing such behaviour before it occurs. Powers include Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs), Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) and injunctions.

This guidance makes clear what action can be taken on policing and prevention, fly-tipping, noise, straying livestock and untaxed vehicles. It also stresses the importance of agencies working together to apply the same rules to Gypsies and Travellers when gathering evidence, prosecuting and collecting fines.

He also welcomed new planning rules which will speed up the enforcement process where it may be necessary so that quicker action can be taken against developments without planning permission such as unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller sites.

When it comes to Gypsies and Travellers, however, this seems to be totally acceptable to both government, the race relations industry and the general public alike.

Neither of them would permit any other ethnic group be mentioned in the same context but for the Dirty Gyppy and Traveller that is OK, they seem to think.

Well, it is not OK and it is a disgrace.

Yes, there are bad apples in the barrel of Gypsies and Travellers, but then the same is true with other ethnic communities and with the general population as a whole. Why, then, are Gypsies and Travellers singled out in this way?

And when we are talking Gypsy Sites – although the mention above is of “unauthorized” sites – no one, as yet, has given Gypsies and Travellers right of secure tenancy when they rent plots on official caravan sites.

Unlike the majority of the population if they rent from the local council or housing association who have security of tenure, this does not apply on Gypsy Sites and residents there can be evicted for nigh on no reason at all at a very short notice without any redress.

But then, we are but Dirty Gyppos and we deserve not better. That, at least seems to be the attitude of government, race relations industry, and general public alike.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said that he Gypsy and Traveller community is treated no differently than the rest of the community. Perpetrators of crime and antisocial behaviour will be punished and, where appropriate, taken through the criminal courts and jailed.

It would be nice to know in which parallel universe the minister happens to live, together with the great majority of his colleagues in the House of Commons and the Other Place, as member of the Commons call the House of Lords, for it definitely is not on this planet.

Gypsies (and Travellers) have always been treated differently to the non-Gypsy population, despite what the current Home Secretary and his colleagues seem to believe.

Copy of the guidance is available at:

Copyright © 2010