APCC Lead on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, David Munro, responds to the Government's announcement to improve the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised encampments:
I am glad that the government has shown concern in this area and is responding to the concerns of communities affected by unauthorised encampments.
It is absolutely right that the police feel confident to enforce the law; I therefore welcome the government’s proposals, including extending the limit by which trespassers directed from land would be unable to return, reducing the number of vehicles needed in an unauthorised encampment for the police to act, and amending existing police powers to enable trespassers to be moved on from the highway.
I am also glad to see the government acknowledge that more transit sites are needed, as I believe that the root of many of the problems which unauthorised sites cause is the lack of legal sites for Traveller communities. I additionally welcome the funding announced by MHCLG to both enable councils to enforce planning rules, and to support projects to benefit Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) communities. Furthermore, I welcome the announcement that there will be further consultation on making trespass a criminal offence, as this will have widespread implications – not just for unauthorised encampments – and needs careful consideration.
Indeed, whilst policing has an important role to play, with regard to tackling unauthorised encampments and the problems they cause, a multiagency approach is needed on both the local and national level, to create safer and more harmonious communities where the law is respected by all.