Traveller sites: your frequently asked questions put to the authorities

Travellers on land at Kinson Common

Travellers on land at Kinson Common

First published in News

WHEREVER travellers set up unauthorised encampments on public land, the public want a host of questions answered.

They boil down to: What can be done? And are travellers in these camps being treated more leniently than others would be?

The Echo attempts to deal with some of the key questions:

Why can't travellers be moved on more quickly?

Councils in Dorset have not generally met their legal obligation to provide sites where travellers can stay.

In areas where councils provide travellers with a legal place to stop, the police can use Section 62A of the Criminal Justice Act to move those who set up illegal sites.

Otherwise, the police have only Section 61 of the same act, which is rarely used because it requires evidence of a high level of criminality.

When police are unable to act, councils are forced go to the civil courts to have the camps evicted - a process which takes around a week and often ends with the travellers moving on the day they are set for eviction.

This has resulted in officials 'chasing' groups of travellers around Bournemouth and Poole, with the eviction process starting from scratch with each new site.

What difference would the use of Section 62A - ie if there were enough authorised sites - make?

Police and crime commissioner Martyn Underhill has pointed out that last summer, when Dorset County Council set up an authorised site shortly before the Dorset Steam Fair, things were different.

When an unauthorised camp was established in Sherborne, it was moved on within hours.

Why are travellers not fined when they camp in car parks without paying?

This has proved one of the most inflammatory issues connected with travellers' camps - public resentment at seeing the owners of illegally-parked vehicles escaping parking tickets.

In the summer of 2012, a Freedom of Information request by the Daily Echo established that 16 fines had been issued in Bournemouth car parks where travellers were camped. But the council refused to say how many of those tickets had been issued to travellers' vehicles and how many to other drivers.

Problems can include the safety of the parking wardens and the difficulty in tracing the registered keepers of the vehicles.

Planning and transport boss Mike Holmes said when the Echo covered this issue: “Council enforcement officers will issue penalty charge notices where possible but our standard council policy advises that if they feel their personal safety is compromised then they should not put themselves at risk.”

Can't councils share a travellers' site?

Bournemouth council has argued that it has no possible site for a travellers' camp, although the law requires councils to provide sites within their own boundaries.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles said last year that he would “welcome” councils setting up shared sites.

That was taken by some as an indication that police would, in future, be able to invoke the tougher Section 62A powers as long as there was an authorised site locally, even if it was across a local authority boundary.

But so far there has been no change in the rules on this issue, leaving each council to find a site or make the best of the current situation.

Why are travellers on illegal encampments not prosecuted for criminal offences?

If travellers remove fence posts or break locks to gain access to open spaces, residents often complain that they are not prosecuted for the damage involved.

Similarly, they complain that fly-tipping and keeping untaxed vehicles often go unpunished.

Dorset Police provided a statement from Chief Inspector Mike Claxton, who said: “When policing unauthorised encampments (UAEs) Dorset Police applies the law in the same way to both UAEs and the settled community. Crime and antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Comments have been opened on this story but please note: any reference to gypsies or any racially offensive term will cause them to be closed and you may find your account suspended. Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are legally recognised as ethnic groups, and protected by the Race Relations Act. Please keep your comments to this particular incident and do not generalise. Thanks for your co-operation.

Comments (21)

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4:31pm Thu 17 Jul 14

smartie girl says...

why do they leave so much rubbish strewn about , they could at least the the place tidy ????
why do they leave so much rubbish strewn about , they could at least the the place tidy ???? smartie girl
  • Score: 7

4:42pm Thu 17 Jul 14

MrEdge says...

Is the main question not "Why are councils obliged to provide authorized sites?"

Can those authorized sites be chargeable for their upkeep? The lack of council tax payments made by Irish travelers and Romany Gypsies surly would mean the sites should be maintained by the users?

See council parking spaces or a president.
Is the main question not "Why are councils obliged to provide authorized sites?" Can those authorized sites be chargeable for their upkeep? The lack of council tax payments made by Irish travelers and Romany Gypsies surly would mean the sites should be maintained by the users? See council parking spaces or a president. MrEdge
  • Score: 5

4:48pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Harpenter says...

Could Dorset police please comment then what action has been taken regarding criminal damage to gain entry to the common if crime and anti social behaviour is not tolerated ... Does this 'section 62A ' mean anyone of us can camp in a beauty spot for free for just under a week? Also if wardens are fearing for their safety to pursue illegal parking in car parks why are they not supported by the relevant authority to do their job - the only message the travellers are getting from this is to continue to be aggressive and they'll be left alone. The law around this issue seems ludicrous ! If you want to encourage law abiding, tax paying citizens make it worth our while as currently it's very one sided !!
Could Dorset police please comment then what action has been taken regarding criminal damage to gain entry to the common if crime and anti social behaviour is not tolerated ... Does this 'section 62A ' mean anyone of us can camp in a beauty spot for free for just under a week? Also if wardens are fearing for their safety to pursue illegal parking in car parks why are they not supported by the relevant authority to do their job - the only message the travellers are getting from this is to continue to be aggressive and they'll be left alone. The law around this issue seems ludicrous ! If you want to encourage law abiding, tax paying citizens make it worth our while as currently it's very one sided !! Harpenter
  • Score: 29

4:55pm Thu 17 Jul 14

BmthNewshound says...

Interesting way of moving Roma Gypsies on in Belgium " Roma gypsies driven out of Belgian town after DJ blasts Dire Straits' 'Sultans of Swing' at them" (source: Daily Mail) http://tinyurl.com/k
7xdla3
.
Other EU countries are burdened by the same EU Human Rights laws as in the UK but seem to either ignore them or interpret them differently. Perhaps Dorset councils should take a lead from Belgium.
.
Interesting way of moving Roma Gypsies on in Belgium " Roma gypsies driven out of Belgian town after DJ blasts Dire Straits' 'Sultans of Swing' at them" (source: Daily Mail) http://tinyurl.com/k 7xdla3 . Other EU countries are burdened by the same EU Human Rights laws as in the UK but seem to either ignore them or interpret them differently. Perhaps Dorset councils should take a lead from Belgium. . BmthNewshound
  • Score: 17

5:35pm Thu 17 Jul 14

tisdarcy says...

If I get a caravan and go park up on Redhill with my family will I be a traveller?
If I get a caravan and go park up on Redhill with my family will I be a traveller? tisdarcy
  • Score: 9

5:37pm Thu 17 Jul 14

mia400 says...

This is what happens when everyone decides that a campsite near them is a bad idea !! they only come here because they know we have no site, wise up and lets get a site sorted asap then maybe next year this will not happen, countys that have this in place d not have this problem.
This is what happens when everyone decides that a campsite near them is a bad idea !! they only come here because they know we have no site, wise up and lets get a site sorted asap then maybe next year this will not happen, countys that have this in place d not have this problem. mia400
  • Score: 1

5:50pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Wesoblind says...

so threaten a parking warden with a tyre iron and they wont ticket you, i see thats how the world works?

SURELY IF THEY GO THERE TO TICKET THEM AND GET TREATENED OR ATTACKED THEY GET ARRESTED!
so threaten a parking warden with a tyre iron and they wont ticket you, i see thats how the world works? SURELY IF THEY GO THERE TO TICKET THEM AND GET TREATENED OR ATTACKED THEY GET ARRESTED! Wesoblind
  • Score: 18

5:52pm Thu 17 Jul 14

BigAlfromsunnyBournemouth says...

Why can't we use Creekmoor Park and Ride, charge £50 per night per caravan to be payable in advance, if any caravans appear they can then be given a choice, move on or pay the £50 per night to stay in Creekmoor, I rather suspect that all will opt to move on.

The other alternative as I have said before, is to block their vehicles in and not let them leave unless they take their caravans with them. No vehicle means they can't travel the local area trawling for work, no work means no money and a change in their location so that they can get work.
Why can't we use Creekmoor Park and Ride, charge £50 per night per caravan to be payable in advance, if any caravans appear they can then be given a choice, move on or pay the £50 per night to stay in Creekmoor, I rather suspect that all will opt to move on. The other alternative as I have said before, is to block their vehicles in and not let them leave unless they take their caravans with them. No vehicle means they can't travel the local area trawling for work, no work means no money and a change in their location so that they can get work. BigAlfromsunnyBournemouth
  • Score: 11

5:53pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Wesoblind says...

mia400 wrote:
This is what happens when everyone decides that a campsite near them is a bad idea !! they only come here because they know we have no site, wise up and lets get a site sorted asap then maybe next year this will not happen, countys that have this in place d not have this problem.
There are thousands of sites for them! Look on rightmove etc there is loads of nice four bedroom semis.
[quote][p][bold]mia400[/bold] wrote: This is what happens when everyone decides that a campsite near them is a bad idea !! they only come here because they know we have no site, wise up and lets get a site sorted asap then maybe next year this will not happen, countys that have this in place d not have this problem.[/p][/quote]There are thousands of sites for them! Look on rightmove etc there is loads of nice four bedroom semis. Wesoblind
  • Score: 7

5:56pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Arjay says...

mia400 wrote:
This is what happens when everyone decides that a campsite near them is a bad idea !! they only come here because they know we have no site, wise up and lets get a site sorted asap then maybe next year this will not happen, countys that have this in place d not have this problem.
Where do you suggest that site should be?......hopefully not near my home, and I'm guessing - deep down - you probably hope not near yours either?

And as that same attitude is likely to be taken by most other folk as well, we're sort of back to square one again.... as usual.....

Quite why it takes a WEEK to sort out the eviction paperwork EACH TIME remains a mystery to me.
Is everything written out in triplicate, with a quill pen? I can't think of any other reason for such long delays....
[quote][p][bold]mia400[/bold] wrote: This is what happens when everyone decides that a campsite near them is a bad idea !! they only come here because they know we have no site, wise up and lets get a site sorted asap then maybe next year this will not happen, countys that have this in place d not have this problem.[/p][/quote]Where do you suggest that site should be?......hopefully not near my home, and I'm guessing - deep down - you probably hope not near yours either? And as that same attitude is likely to be taken by most other folk as well, we're sort of back to square one again.... as usual..... Quite why it takes a WEEK to sort out the eviction paperwork EACH TIME remains a mystery to me. Is everything written out in triplicate, with a quill pen? I can't think of any other reason for such long delays.... Arjay
  • Score: 12

6:40pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Carolyn43 says...

BigAlfromsunnyBourne
mouth
wrote:
Why can't we use Creekmoor Park and Ride, charge £50 per night per caravan to be payable in advance, if any caravans appear they can then be given a choice, move on or pay the £50 per night to stay in Creekmoor, I rather suspect that all will opt to move on.

The other alternative as I have said before, is to block their vehicles in and not let them leave unless they take their caravans with them. No vehicle means they can't travel the local area trawling for work, no work means no money and a change in their location so that they can get work.
This question has already been answered several times in the past. Government money was used to build the park and ride and it can only be used as such even if it is not used, because of the conditions under which that money was accepted. It is also on green belt and cannot be developed.
[quote][p][bold]BigAlfromsunnyBourne mouth[/bold] wrote: Why can't we use Creekmoor Park and Ride, charge £50 per night per caravan to be payable in advance, if any caravans appear they can then be given a choice, move on or pay the £50 per night to stay in Creekmoor, I rather suspect that all will opt to move on. The other alternative as I have said before, is to block their vehicles in and not let them leave unless they take their caravans with them. No vehicle means they can't travel the local area trawling for work, no work means no money and a change in their location so that they can get work.[/p][/quote]This question has already been answered several times in the past. Government money was used to build the park and ride and it can only be used as such even if it is not used, because of the conditions under which that money was accepted. It is also on green belt and cannot be developed. Carolyn43
  • Score: 2

6:49pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Townee says...

If they get a ticket and refuse to pay, I'm sure that goes into a computer system used by the police. When they come back next year take their car or van away from them. This would happen if we didn't pay, we could have the bailiff knocking on our door.
The law needs to be speeded up to be able to move them on in one day. Then perhaps they will think twice before they move in again.
If they get a ticket and refuse to pay, I'm sure that goes into a computer system used by the police. When they come back next year take their car or van away from them. This would happen if we didn't pay, we could have the bailiff knocking on our door. The law needs to be speeded up to be able to move them on in one day. Then perhaps they will think twice before they move in again. Townee
  • Score: 14

7:54pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Reader Echo says...

There are two key issues here:

1) The elected local and national government officials/Mps/Counci
llors are not capable of sorting this out. It has been going on for years and it seems like the stalemate will continue with the tax payer footing the bill.

2) Membership of the EU and the 'Human Rights' issue.

If the electorate carries on voting the way it does then nothing is going to change.
There are two key issues here: 1) The elected local and national government officials/Mps/Counci llors are not capable of sorting this out. It has been going on for years and it seems like the stalemate will continue with the tax payer footing the bill. 2) Membership of the EU and the 'Human Rights' issue. If the electorate carries on voting the way it does then nothing is going to change. Reader Echo
  • Score: 8

8:12pm Thu 17 Jul 14

wonderway says...

ok put them in middle of bovington tank range lots of free space no agro to locals and free targets for tanks
ok put them in middle of bovington tank range lots of free space no agro to locals and free targets for tanks wonderway
  • Score: 15

9:10pm Thu 17 Jul 14

M0Z says...

1) The sense of special treatment is probably what alienates people most. If anyone else from one of the many communities safeguarded by our various equality laws parked illegally, the authorities would move them on immediately or fine them. They would also be prosecuted for any illegal acts and for the costs of restoring any damage. These laws are supposed to be about non-discrimination and equality, not about giving one particular group a virtual immunity from wrongdoing.

2) If the guidance given to parking wardens is to walk away if they fear for their safety, how safe are the local residents? I’m aware of a few situations that make me think the police are also too frightened intervene. This is wrong.

3) How do we know they are really from the ethnic group they claim to be? Is there some kind of ID certificate, and if so, is it checked? Are they really leading a transitory lifestyle, or do they have a fixed site/home elsewhere?

4) Why can’t enforcement action be taken when the registered keeper of the vehicle can’t be traced, as the authorities claim? The registered keeper is irrelevant – it’s the driver and the vehicle that’s important. Both are illegally parked in front of whichever official has spotted them. Presumably that means they’re not taxed or insured either. I’ve seen disabled people park accidently in the wrong place and crawl away in wheelchairs, only to have the council tow their car away a few minutes later. Why don’t the same rules apply to everyone?

5) My own view is that overpopulated and tourist areas should be exempt from the requirement to provide transit sites. There’s plenty of room elsewhere. Figures from the Guardian for 2011 show that the only place with transit sites in the whole of London was Sutton, 52 pitches. If Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster can avoid it, why can’t Bournemouth? The law is wrong – our representatives should be lobbying to change it, not bleating about their obligations to adhere to it as an excuse for their inadequacy.
1) The sense of special treatment is probably what alienates people most. If anyone else from one of the many communities safeguarded by our various equality laws parked illegally, the authorities would move them on immediately or fine them. They would also be prosecuted for any illegal acts and for the costs of restoring any damage. These laws are supposed to be about non-discrimination and equality, not about giving one particular group a virtual immunity from wrongdoing. 2) If the guidance given to parking wardens is to walk away if they fear for their safety, how safe are the local residents? I’m aware of a few situations that make me think the police are also too frightened intervene. This is wrong. 3) How do we know they are really from the ethnic group they claim to be? Is there some kind of ID certificate, and if so, is it checked? Are they really leading a transitory lifestyle, or do they have a fixed site/home elsewhere? 4) Why can’t enforcement action be taken when the registered keeper of the vehicle can’t be traced, as the authorities claim? The registered keeper is irrelevant – it’s the driver and the vehicle that’s important. Both are illegally parked in front of whichever official has spotted them. Presumably that means they’re not taxed or insured either. I’ve seen disabled people park accidently in the wrong place and crawl away in wheelchairs, only to have the council tow their car away a few minutes later. Why don’t the same rules apply to everyone? 5) My own view is that overpopulated and tourist areas should be exempt from the requirement to provide transit sites. There’s plenty of room elsewhere. Figures from the Guardian for 2011 show that the only place with transit sites in the whole of London was Sutton, 52 pitches. If Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster can avoid it, why can’t Bournemouth? The law is wrong – our representatives should be lobbying to change it, not bleating about their obligations to adhere to it as an excuse for their inadequacy. M0Z
  • Score: 24

10:12pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Minty Fresh says...

The reporter who posted up this article forgot to ask what his pathetic rag of a local paper could do to stop the nomads from trespassing and breaking our laws. He/she should go ask Toby Anonymous (the Editor?? Really?? .... lmfao) who is hiding under his desk in Weymouth why he won't launch a high profile campaign for a law change that would see travellers prosecuted for their misdemeanours. This newspaper and their owners are COWARDS too scared to take on REAL issues that affect us. Better to keep quiet and not rock the boat eh? That's NOT what local journalism is meant to be about ffs! This would NEVER have been allowed to happen when the late great Neal Butterworth ( the best Editor this paper has ever had) was in charge. He would have seen what HE and this paper could have done to support it's readers. He would have lobbied MP's for a law change to stop these law breaking scum getting away with what they do. Disgusting that the owners of the Echo, Gannet/Newsquest, are so worthless and spineless when it comes to helping out the local community they purport to represent.
The reporter who posted up this article forgot to ask what his pathetic rag of a local paper could do to stop the nomads from trespassing and breaking our laws. He/she should go ask Toby Anonymous (the Editor?? Really?? .... lmfao) who is hiding under his desk in Weymouth why he won't launch a high profile campaign for a law change that would see travellers prosecuted for their misdemeanours. This newspaper and their owners are COWARDS too scared to take on REAL issues that affect us. Better to keep quiet and not rock the boat eh? That's NOT what local journalism is meant to be about ffs! This would NEVER have been allowed to happen when the late great Neal Butterworth ( the best Editor this paper has ever had) was in charge. He would have seen what HE and this paper could have done to support it's readers. He would have lobbied MP's for a law change to stop these law breaking scum getting away with what they do. Disgusting that the owners of the Echo, Gannet/Newsquest, are so worthless and spineless when it comes to helping out the local community they purport to represent. Minty Fresh
  • Score: 7

11:19pm Thu 17 Jul 14

podgie says...

If my dog takes a **** and I don't clean it up,I would be fined and have numerous agencies and civic bodies on my case quite rightly.
What about these travelling ,freeloading,excreme
nt dumpers?????
If my dog takes a **** and I don't clean it up,I would be fined and have numerous agencies and civic bodies on my case quite rightly. What about these travelling ,freeloading,excreme nt dumpers????? podgie
  • Score: 13

7:37pm Fri 18 Jul 14

HRH of Boscombe says...

BmthNewshound wrote:
Interesting way of moving Roma Gypsies on in Belgium " Roma gypsies driven out of Belgian town after DJ blasts Dire Straits' 'Sultans of Swing' at them" (source: Daily Mail) http://tinyurl.com/k

7xdla3
.
Other EU countries are burdened by the same EU Human Rights laws as in the UK but seem to either ignore them or interpret them differently. Perhaps Dorset councils should take a lead from Belgium.
.
Daily Mail rubbish. I read in the Metro it backfired and they just started dancing and having a party
[quote][p][bold]BmthNewshound[/bold] wrote: Interesting way of moving Roma Gypsies on in Belgium " Roma gypsies driven out of Belgian town after DJ blasts Dire Straits' 'Sultans of Swing' at them" (source: Daily Mail) http://tinyurl.com/k 7xdla3 . Other EU countries are burdened by the same EU Human Rights laws as in the UK but seem to either ignore them or interpret them differently. Perhaps Dorset councils should take a lead from Belgium. .[/p][/quote]Daily Mail rubbish. I read in the Metro it backfired and they just started dancing and having a party HRH of Boscombe
  • Score: -3

5:41pm Mon 21 Jul 14

Domingo De Santa Clara says...

Problem: nowhere within the town boundary for a traveller camp.
Solution: extend town boundary by one field,put travellers in field.
Problem: nowhere within the town boundary for a traveller camp. Solution: extend town boundary by one field,put travellers in field. Domingo De Santa Clara
  • Score: 2

6:18pm Mon 4 Aug 14

EccentricmanG says...

Maybe we should get tgether and block the vehicles in. I dont mind a few days out.

Oh wait do you think we'll be in trouble for doing that??
Maybe we should get tgether and block the vehicles in. I dont mind a few days out. Oh wait do you think we'll be in trouble for doing that?? EccentricmanG
  • Score: 2

1:42pm Mon 11 Aug 14

dontrews says...

Interesting way of moving Roma Gypsies on in Belgium " Roma gypsies driven out of Belgian town after DJ blasts Dire Straits' 'Sultans of Swing' at them" (source: Daily Mail) http://tinyurl.com/k

7xdla3

That certainly won't work. You need The Who.
I once emptied a bar in Ibiza after getting the barman to put on "Live at Leeds".
Marvellous.
Interesting way of moving Roma Gypsies on in Belgium " Roma gypsies driven out of Belgian town after DJ blasts Dire Straits' 'Sultans of Swing' at them" (source: Daily Mail) http://tinyurl.com/k 7xdla3 That certainly won't work. You need The Who. I once emptied a bar in Ibiza after getting the barman to put on "Live at Leeds". Marvellous. dontrews
  • Score: 0

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