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Review of council powers over unauthorised traveller sites

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The government is to review council powers to respond to illegal gypsy and traveller sites.

The consultation, launched today, will be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, and the Home Office and will cover issues related to police and local authority powers, court processes, and government guidance.

Housing minister Dominic Raab said: “The vast majority of the travelling community are decent and law-abiding people. But, we are particularly concerned about illegal traveller encampments, and some of the anti-social behaviour they can give rise to.

“We must promote a tolerant society and make sure there are legal sites available for travellers, but equally the rule of law must be applied to everyone.”

The consultation will also take into account the “provision of legal sites and the impact on settled and nomadic communities”.

The government’s latest figures, dated to July 2017, show that 16% of all caravans were located on sites without planning permission. Of the 22,792 caravans located in England in total, 3721 were on unauthorised sites - a 19% like-for-like increase on 2015 statistics.

A 2016 report by the support group Travellers Movement found that the biggest reason for gypsies and travellers living on unauthorised sites was a “shortage of authorised sites nationwide”.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission most recent report was published in 2012 and found a direct link between the number of authorised sites available and the national rate of evictions for gypsies and travellers in England.

The Travellers Movement also called for a “more joined up working” between various public service departments when dealing with traveller’s issues, including over accommodation and environmental insecurity and improved access to services.

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