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A NEW APPROACH TO TACKLING UNAUTHORISED TRAVELLER CAMPS

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A radical overhaul of policy on unauthorised traveller encampments ...
A radical overhaul of policy on unauthorised traveller encampments

has been announced today to tackle public concern about nuisance and

disorder arising from such encampments.

The government's new strategy combines tough powers for police to

move on unauthorised traveller encampments with improved local site

provisions.

The range of actions include:

- Provide initial funding to facilitate the provision of temporary,

transit and emergency stopping place sites for travellers.

As a first step the 2003/4 round of the Gypsy Site Refurbishment

Programme will be revised so as to provide initial funding for

temporary sites as well as continuing to provide money to help with

the refurbishment of existing network local authority authorised

sites. The details are currently being drawn up, and bidding guidance

with full details will be issued in the autumn.

- Produce new guidance on managing unauthorised camping.

The guidance will be informed by views both from the settled

communities, including residents, business people and farmers, and

travellers. The new guidance will in particular emphasise the need

for effective local strategies which set out clearly lead

responsibilities between local authorities and the police for taking

action. The guidance will emphasise that the same standards of

behaviour and regard for the law are expected from all sectors of the

community, including regard for public health, proper disposal of

waste and the conduct of business activities. The new guidance will

be issued this autumn.

- Provide police with increased powers to move on unauthorised

traveller encampments.

The police will have new eviction powers only where local authorities

have made provision for temporary, transit and emergency stopping

sites proportionate to the number of travellers that regularly pass

through their area. This reflects the government's view that the use

of stronger enforcement powers and adequate site provision must be

linked.

Housing and regeneration minister Tony McNulty said the revised

policy was a very positive step towards helping local authorities

address the issue of unauthorised encampments by, amongst other

things, improving site provision:

'Our strategy is balanced and fair. The standard of behaviour of

travellers should be the same as that expected of the settled

community and does not mean turning a blind eye to anti-social

behaviour.'

Home Office minister John Denham said:

'Taken together this approach signifies the government's

determination to provide a viable framework within which local

agencies - in particular local authorities and the police - can

respond to unauthorised camping in a way which recognises the needs

and concerns of both the settled and traveller communities.'

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