The “draconian” law could threaten the nomadic traditions of travelers

ALMOST 100 passenger caravans were set up in Bradford last summer, but new legislation could threaten the nomadic traditions of traveler communities by criminalizing unauthorized encampments.

The Amis, Familles et Voyageurs (FFT) association described the proposed measures as “draconian”.

Currently passed by Parliament, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would give the police more powers to deal with such encampments, including the right to seize vehicles and impose heavy fines on those who enter “with the intention of residing”.

As of July 2021, there were places for 62 caravans in local communities and at private sites in Bradford, according to the latest government passenger caravan count.

Data from the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities shows there were 90 travel trailers in the area in July, up from 80 in July 2019, when the last count of the summer took place.

Of those counted, six were in unauthorized locations.

There were traveler encampments in a number of areas in Bradford in 2021, including Odsal Green in April, on a cycle path near Gaisby Lane, Shipley, in April, and on a field in Eccleshill in June.

Across England, 21,000 passenger caravans were in approved locations in the first count since the start of the coronavirus pandemic – nearly 90% of those counted.

However, figures show that 3,000 were in unauthorized settlements, most of them on land owned by travelers and gypsies.

The number of caravans parked at other non-approved sites has fallen by a third nationally since the last summer count in July 2019.

The introduction of new legislation could have a “chilling” impact on those currently residing in roadside camps and those who wish to live nomadically, according to the FFT.

Abbie Kirkby, head of public affairs and policy for the charity, said the tally had failed to capture a “dire lack” of safe stopping spaces.

She said: “It tells us how many vehicles there are, but nothing about the people and the stories behind them.

“With the government’s police bill making its way into parliament, gypsies and roadside travelers will soon be stuck in a bind and risk facing jail or being forced to relocate. in bricks and mortar.

“It is utterly illogical and immoral to use the full force of the law to tell people where they cannot go without telling them where they can go.”

A government spokesperson said: “Through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the government is clearly committed to strengthening the powers of the police to arrest and seize. vehicles of those who set up unauthorized camps and cause damage, disturbance or distress. ”