Police powers against travellers

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Stephanie
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Police powers against travellers

Post by Stephanie » Sun Dec 15, 2019 3:04 pm

There is a consultation for the government to increase police powers against travellers, would be good if people could fill it in saying no to this use of the police. Friends, Families and Travellers have a suggested answers form on their site, due to some of the questions being a bit difficult to understand.

https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/how-to- ... ravellers/
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Fishnut
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Fishnut » Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm

Thanks for sharing this. It's a f.cking awful survey, seemingly designed to make it so that people get confused and just give up. The suggested answers seem to be missing a few and I found the document a bit hard to follow so I've put them below. Most of the questions are in the form of a likert scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree and then a freeform box to give an explanation of your answer. While the suggested answers are helpful it's probably a good idea to add your own stuff so it doesn't seem like everyone has just copy-pasted. The proposed legislation has the potential for destroying travelling communities entirely so the threat cannot be understated. I know that these communities often have a bad reputation but they are people just trying to live their lives. If you want to learn a little more before filling in the survey I found this twitter thread to be really useful. For example, I didn't know travellers pay council tax.

Q1 To what extent do you agree or disagree that knowingly entering land without the landowner’s permission should only be made a criminal offence if it is for the purpose of residing on it?
Strongly disagree
I don’t think trespass should be criminalised at all.

Q2: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the act of knowingly entering land without the landowner’s permission should only be made a criminal offence if it is for the purpose of residing on it with vehicles?
Strongly disagree
I don’t think trespass should be criminalised at all.

Q3: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the landowner or representatives of the landowner should take reasonable steps to ask persons occupying their land to remove themselves and their possessions before occupation of the land can be considered a criminal offence?
Strongly disagree
I don’t think trespass should be criminalised at all.

Q4: To what extent do you agree or disagree that a criminal offence can only be committed when the following conditions have been met?
a) the encampment prevents people entitled to use the land from making use of it;
Strongly disagree
b) the encampment is causing or is likely to cause damage to the land or amenities;
Strongly disagree
c) those on the encampment have demanded money from the landowner to vacate the land; and/or
Strongly disagree
d) those on the encampment are involved or are likely to be involved in anti-social behaviour.
Strongly disagree
I don’t think trespass should be criminalised at all.

Q5: What other conditions not covered in the above should we consider?
None - trespass should not be criminalised at all.

Q6: To what extent do you agree or disagree that police should be given the power to direct trespassers to suitable authorised sites in a neighbouring local authority area?
Strongly disagree
The police already have lots of eviction powers, what we need is more sites.

Q7: Should this be subject to conditions around agreements being in place between local authorities?
[they don't provide an answer for this and I don't know a suitable one so I just left this question blank]

Q8: Should there be a maximum distance that a trespasser can be directed across? If yes, what distance should that be?
Yes
[they don't provide an answer for this but later point out the need to stay near schools and GPs so I said that a distance that doesn't requiring changing these or that causes any other administrative changes]

Q9: Should there be any other conditions that should be considered when directing a trespasser across neighbouring authorities. If yes, what should these be?
Yes
Staying near doctors and the schools that children currently attend

Q10: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the period of time in which trespassers directed from land would be unable to return should be increased from three months to twelve months?

Strongly disagree
Eviction powers are already too strong.

Q11: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the number of vehicles needing to be involved in an unauthorised encampment before police powers can be exercised should be lowered from six to two vehicles?
Strongly disagree
Eviction powers are already too strong.

Q12: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the police should be granted the power to remove trespassers from land that forms part of the highway?
Strongly disagree
Eviction powers are already too strong. The council can do this already.

Q13: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the police should be granted the power to seize property, including vehicles, from trespassers who are on land with the purpose of residing on it?

Strongly disagree
This means taking our homes off us, what about our children and our basic human rights?
[I went off on one here, as the entire idea is despicable to me and is massive state overreach imo]

Q14: Should the police be able to seize the property of:
i) Anyone whom they suspect to be trespassing on land with the purpose of residing on it;
ii) Anyone they arrest for trespassing on land with the purpose of residing on it; or
iii) Anyone convicted of trespassing on land with the purpose of residing on it?

No
[they don't provide a suggested answer but I'm pretty sure you find folks will be able to come up with your own!]

Q15: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the proposed amendments to sections 61 and 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 contained in this consultation are sufficient measures to tackle the public disorder issues which are associated with unauthorised encampments without the requirement for introducing specific powers that criminalise unauthorised encampments?
[This question was worded in a way that made me unsure which likert scale answer to go for and they don't say either. I went for strongly disagree on the basis that the entire thing is unnecessary but I'm happy to be corrected]
I don’t think criminalising trespass or the amendments to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act should happen.

Q16: Do you expect that the proposed amendments to sections 61 and 62A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 contained in this consultation would have a positive or negative impact on the health or educational outcomes of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities?
Highly negative impact
Being constantly evicted is really hard on families. Do not introduce these changes.

Q17: Do you expect that criminalising unauthorised encampments would have a positive or negative impact on the health or educational outcomes of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities? If so, do you have any evidence to support this view, and/or suggestions for what could be done to mitigate or prevent any negative impacts?
Highly negative impact
This will make my community criminals just for being Travellers trying to live our cultural life.
[Another place for you to have fun. I talked about cultural genocide which may have been a bit strong but I fear it isn't. This legislation is certainly about trying to destroy a centuries-old way of life]

Q18: Do you have any other comments to make on the issue of unauthorised encampments not specifically addressed by any of the questions above?
The Government should make more sites so that people have places to stop.

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Stephanie
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Stephanie » Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:26 pm

Thank you for doing that!

Yeah, I used different wording and fuller answers (for instance on the impacts of such changes on the travelling community).

Someone else has also suggested complaining to MPs about how bad the survey is.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Fishnut » Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:29 pm

That's a good idea. I haven't emailed my MP for a while so he's probably due something! (not that he'll do anything. At the hustings he talked about how as a cabinet minister a decade ago he said that mental health provisioning needed ring-fencing but nothing got done. If as one of the top politicians in the country he's incapable of making positive change how the f.ck is he going to do anything as a backbencher?)

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Woodchopper » Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:21 pm

I’m in favour of a right to roam. Exists elsewhere without major problems.

Q4 seems to be an example of a populist call to pass laws against actions that have already been criminal offenses for a long time (eg criminal damage or blackmail). Sole purpose is to generate the impression that they are doing something.

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by discovolante » Mon Dec 16, 2019 10:19 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:21 pm
I’m in favour of a right to roam. Exists elsewhere without major problems.

Q4 seems to be an example of a populist call to pass laws against actions that have already been criminal offenses for a long time (eg criminal damage or blackmail). Sole purpose is to generate the impression that they are doing something.
It's a terribly worded question.

I haven't completed it yet because I want to do a little bit of reading in case there is anything I can usefully (and safely) add to the suggested answers.

I'm sure there are better resources available but a couple of starting points might be here:
https://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/n ... e-uk-today
https://www.gardencourtchambers.co.uk/n ... -are-sites (there is a broken link on this page and I have emailed them to ask them to try and resolve it, although I think the problem is with the site they are linking to rather than them but if it is their work perhaps they can host it elsewhere while the technical issue is fixed).
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by GeenDienst » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:12 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 10:21 pm
Q4 seems to be an example of a populist call to pass laws against actions that have already been criminal offenses for a long time (eg criminal damage or blackmail). Sole purpose is to generate the impression that they are doing something.
I read that as going beyond that. E.g. I could "agree" that a criminal offence can have been committed when those conditions (that specify the law as it stands) have not been met. It seems to be trying to lower the bar for criminality.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by lpm » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:31 pm

What is the level that damage becomes criminal damage?

Leaving litter is presumably never criminal damage. Cutting a padlock on a gate presumably is. What about damage to land, or trees?
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:49 pm

lpm wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 3:31 pm
What is the level that damage becomes criminal damage?

Leaving litter is presumably never criminal damage. Cutting a padlock on a gate presumably is. What about damage to land, or trees?
Damage to land or trees is covered. Criminal damage covers any deliberate alteration of someone else’s property that makes it less valuable or useful. For example making a crop circle without the consent of the farmer would be criminal damage.

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by GeenDienst » Mon Dec 16, 2019 4:00 pm

And indeed running through a wheatfield.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by discovolante » Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:32 pm

Wow, I'm finally looking at this survey properly and it's f.cking awful. I know government consultation documents can be a bit iffy at the best of times but this one is dreadful and I think it is designed to catch people out.

Fishnut, I've been looking at this question (quoting your response below):
Q3: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the landowner or representatives of the landowner should take reasonable steps to ask persons occupying their land to remove themselves and their possessions before occupation of the land can be considered a criminal offence?
Strongly disagree
I don’t think trespass should be criminalised at all.
I believe the 'agree/strongly disagree' were deliberately not answered in the suggested response because however you answer, it presupposes that you think trespass should be a criminal offence - the question is about to what extent you think there should be certain preconditions to this. My worry is that they will take the numbers of agree/strongly disagree etc and separate them from the long form answers explaining why. So in my answer I am explaining why I am refusing to answer that bit of the question, for all the good it will do.

Anyway, on I go...
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by discovolante » Mon Dec 16, 2019 9:06 pm

Fishnut wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm

Q13: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the police should be granted the power to seize property, including vehicles, from trespassers who are on land with the purpose of residing on it?

Strongly disagree
This means taking our homes off us, what about our children and our basic human rights?
[I went off on one here, as the entire idea is despicable to me and is massive state overreach imo]
Sorry, just to go on.

The legislation currently in place is here:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/199 ... rs-on-land
61 Power to remove trespassers on land.
(1)If the senior police officer present at the scene reasonably believes that two or more persons are trespassing on land and are present there with the common purpose of residing there for any period, that reasonable steps have been taken by or on behalf of the occupier to ask them to leave and—
(a)that any of those persons has caused damage to the land or to property on the land or used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards the occupier, a member of his family or an employee or agent of his, or
(b)that those persons have between them six or more vehicles on the land,he may direct those persons, or any of them, to leave the land and to remove any vehicles or other property they have with them on the land.

...

62 Supplementary powers of seizure.

(1)If a direction has been given under section 61 and a constable reasonably suspects that any person to whom the direction applies has, without reasonable excuse—
(a)failed to remove any vehicle on the land which appears to the constable to belong to him or to be in his possession or under his control; or
(b)entered the land as a trespasser with a vehicle within the period of three months beginning with the day on which the direction was given,the constable may seize and remove that vehicle.
So the powers already exist under certain circumstances, but the proposal seems to be an extension from that, as it follows, I suppose, that if it is a criminal offence then the powers should also be extended. So what woodchopper's suggestion that they are trying to be seen to be 'doing something' seems to hold to some extent but if it's not too late it might be worth addressing the distinction in some way or another.

By the way the broken link I referred to above is fixed now.

Another info link here: https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/s ... loneliness

Edit: d'oh, actually the amendments to make it easier to seize vehicles is an alternative to criminalising trespass. Clear as mud though.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Martin_B » Mon Dec 16, 2019 11:56 pm

discovolante wrote:
Mon Dec 16, 2019 8:32 pm
Wow, I'm finally looking at this survey properly and it's f.cking awful. I know government consultation documents can be a bit iffy at the best of times but this one is dreadful and I think it is designed to catch people out.

Fishnut, I've been looking at this question (quoting your response below):
Q3: To what extent do you agree or disagree that the landowner or representatives of the landowner should take reasonable steps to ask persons occupying their land to remove themselves and their possessions before occupation of the land can be considered a criminal offence?
Strongly disagree
I don’t think trespass should be criminalised at all.
I believe the 'agree/strongly disagree' were deliberately not answered in the suggested response because however you answer, it presupposes that you think trespass should be a criminal offence - the question is about to what extent you think there should be certain preconditions to this. My worry is that they will take the numbers of agree/strongly disagree etc and separate them from the long form answers explaining why. So in my answer I am explaining why I am refusing to answer that bit of the question, for all the good it will do.

Anyway, on I go...
I "strongly disagreed" and disputed the premise of the question; trespass is a civil offence and should not be considered a criminal offence at all. That said, a landowner should be required to take all reasonable steps to ask people to move on before taking the matter to a civil court.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by discovolante » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:42 am

Hm, I suppose there is a similar problem with q1 - I'd focused on q3 because that was the one that was left. I've just emailed the org in the OP to see what they think.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by TopBadger » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:44 pm

I suspect the view displayed here will be in the minority with the public. Whilst I agree that Trespass should be a civil matter I suspect that most people in my neck of the countryside (and others) would very much like to see the police be able to move on travellers lest they go to jail and not collect £200.
Fishnut wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm
I know that these communities often have a bad reputation but they are people just trying to live their lives.
They have a near exclusively bad reputation - due to the experience of the communities they visit. You can't just dismiss other peoples lived experiences. Travellers wouldn't be so nearly reviled if they took the time to leave sites as they found them.
Fishnut wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm
The Government should make more sites so that people have places to stop.
I agree. Where I used to live in the midlands had a few sites, the travellers I knew were with the Pat Collins fair and we'd see them in school the same few months of the year whilst the fair was in our area - then they'd move on. Thing is, due to the reputation not many villages want a site near them which leads to something of a vicious circle.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by cvb » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:52 pm

TopBadger wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:44 pm
I suspect the view displayed here will be in the minority with the public. Whilst I agree that Trespass should be a civil matter I suspect that most people in my neck of the countryside (and others) would very much like to see the police be able to move on travellers lest they go to jail and not collect £200.
Fishnut wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm
I know that these communities often have a bad reputation but they are people just trying to live their lives.
They have a near exclusively bad reputation - due to the experience of the communities they visit. You can't just dismiss other peoples lived experiences. Travellers wouldn't be so nearly reviled if they took the time to leave sites as they found them.
Fishnut wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm
The Government should make more sites so that people have places to stop.
I agree. Where I used to live in the midlands had a few sites, the travellers I knew were with the Pat Collins fair and we'd see them in school the same few months of the year whilst the fair was in our area - then they'd move on. Thing is, due to the reputation not many villages want a site near them which leads to something of a vicious circle.
I wasn't going to comment but I have to agree. People have had bad experiences with travellers, not me mind I live in urban area, and that does lead to resentment and nimbyism. Are more sites even wanted by them? I don't think they should be jailed for trespass but I have sympathy for people that they at least inconvenience. Some do real damage as well.

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by MavisEnderby » Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:56 pm

Thanks for this. For some of the questions, I ticked "Neither agree nor disagree" and went on to comment that they were begging the question by assuming I was in favour of criminalising trespass.
The whole thing stinks, and I just hope that my voice added to the others filling this in will make some tiny difference.

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Stephanie » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:49 pm

cvb wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:52 pm
TopBadger wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 2:44 pm
I suspect the view displayed here will be in the minority with the public. Whilst I agree that Trespass should be a civil matter I suspect that most people in my neck of the countryside (and others) would very much like to see the police be able to move on travellers lest they go to jail and not collect £200.
Fishnut wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm
I know that these communities often have a bad reputation but they are people just trying to live their lives.
They have a near exclusively bad reputation - due to the experience of the communities they visit. You can't just dismiss other peoples lived experiences. Travellers wouldn't be so nearly reviled if they took the time to leave sites as they found them.
Fishnut wrote:
Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:21 pm
The Government should make more sites so that people have places to stop.
I agree. Where I used to live in the midlands had a few sites, the travellers I knew were with the Pat Collins fair and we'd see them in school the same few months of the year whilst the fair was in our area - then they'd move on. Thing is, due to the reputation not many villages want a site near them which leads to something of a vicious circle.
I wasn't going to comment but I have to agree. People have had bad experiences with travellers, not me mind I live in urban area, and that does lead to resentment and nimbyism. Are more sites even wanted by them? I don't think they should be jailed for trespass but I have sympathy for people that they at least inconvenience. Some do real damage as well.
I've lived in an area with travellers for much of my life and went to school with children who were from traveller families. I never had any trouble with them.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by cvb » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:57 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:49 pm

I've lived in an area with travellers for much of my life and went to school with children who were from traveller families. I never had any trouble with them.
It's quite possibly the media painting them in a bad picture because of racism. I don't know any travellers and I don't think I have even met one.

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by lpm » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:17 pm

The travelling community have vastly higher imprisonment rates than the average, plus awful life expectancy rates, very low literacy rates, very low rates of qualifications. As an overall group, their terrible reputation for theft is supported by the evidence and is not a tabloid myth.

It's not clear if their crime rates are higher than the equivalent average for non-travelling people with similar poverty and education. Illiterate and innumerate people have a far higher crime rates whatever their background.

And not clear if they are "pushed into the illegal economy" due to prejudice denying them legitimate opportunities.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:55 pm

There have been cases near where I lived in south England of travellers setting up camps on nature reserves and causing damage and leaving a mess. And also, ironically enough, of blocking permissive footpaths through traveller-owned sites.

Nevertheless in all cases it was possible to evict them with existing powers eventually.

I agree that this is a pretty abhorrent bit of prioritising from the government. No doubt it will play well with their rural racist c.nt core, though.
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Pucksoppet » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:18 pm

Rather than trading anecdotes, are there any sources of data about:

Travellers reputation among non-traveller communities?
The costs incurred by landowners and communities where travellers have stayed?
The crime rate in traveller communities compared with non-travelling communities of the same socio-economic status?

I have had experience of visitations in my neighbourhood by groups of people calling themselves travellers, which leads me to having unevidenced opinions about them. Is there any good evidence we can discuss?

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by P.J. Denyer » Tue Dec 17, 2019 9:16 pm

I'm no expert, but I've worked in a pub close to a Traveller site (where the other pubs in the area didn't let them in), lived on an estate where Traveller families in the area who wanted to settle down were housed and had an illegal camp in the field next to my home. I figure I've had more contact with the Traveller community than average.

I've met some really nice people from that community and on the whole I'd say that like anyone else if you treat them decently and with respect you'll get the same in return. However, my experience has ranged from people I'd consider friends and customers I respected and liked, to the group who illegally camped on the field by our house which used to graze horses before they arrived and wasteland contamined with broken glass and human waste when they left, and a short term neighbour who literally piled up the mattresses in one of his kid's bedrooms and set fire to them (his flat incidentally was between mine and the sole flight of stairs in the building) because he wanted a house not a flat.

Like most people Travellers can be good or bad, but in my experience those on the 'bad' end of the scale can be really bad because they don't plan on being around to suffer the consequences.

I don't trust this government and I don't want to see trespass that doesn't involve causing damage criminalised (around my way farmers and gamekeepers can be absolute ar.eholes to walkers who mistakenly take well established paths between public rights of way but which are not themselves rights of way, I'd hate to see them have further legal recourse), but I've also seen the harm caused, and waste left by an illegal camp and that shouldn't be accepted or defended either.

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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Stephanie » Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:46 am

Pucksoppet wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:18 pm
Rather than trading anecdotes, are there any sources of data about:

Travellers reputation among non-traveller communities?
The costs incurred by landowners and communities where travellers have stayed?
The crime rate in traveller communities compared with non-travelling communities of the same socio-economic status?

I have had experience of visitations in my neighbourhood by groups of people calling themselves travellers, which leads me to having unevidenced opinions about them. Is there any good evidence we can discuss?
I'll be honest, that wasn't the intention of me starting this thread, which was really about the consultation
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Re: Police powers against travellers

Post by Fishnut » Wed Dec 18, 2019 11:04 am

Stephanie wrote:
Wed Dec 18, 2019 9:46 am
Pucksoppet wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:18 pm
Rather than trading anecdotes, are there any sources of data about:

Travellers reputation among non-traveller communities?
The costs incurred by landowners and communities where travellers have stayed?
The crime rate in traveller communities compared with non-travelling communities of the same socio-economic status?

I have had experience of visitations in my neighbourhood by groups of people calling themselves travellers, which leads me to having unevidenced opinions about them. Is there any good evidence we can discuss?
I'll be honest, that wasn't the intention of me starting this thread, which was really about the consultation
Plus the fact is the laws are already more than sufficient to deal with any illegal activity. This is targeting of a marginalised population to make it even harder for them to continue their way of life.

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