WEST Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson has urged MPs to back stronger powers to tackle the issue of unauthorised traveller encampments.
It comes with MPs due to debate the matter in Parliament.
He wants MPs to back proposals for:
* More Transit Sites across the region: He says transit sites crucially unlock policing powers that make it quicker and easier to evict people from unauthorised encampments.
They are proven to reduce the number of unauthorised encampments in an area and allow the police to ban groups from entire council areas if they refuse to use an available transit site. A transit site can charge for rent and require a deposit, enabling it to pay for itself.
* Stronger powers for police.
He says, at the moment, police can only direct difficult travelling groups to a transit site within a council area.
A change in the law to allow police to direct groups to transit sites in the wider area would be fairer and more effective, he says.
Banning the worst groups, who engage in criminal activity from the whole West Midlands area for three months at a time would be a serious deterrent, adds Mr Jamieson.
* Better protection for businesses and private land:
MPs are asked to consider supporting legislative changes that protect private landowners from being repeat victims of unauthorised traveller encampments, through making sanctions available for travelling groups that return to the same private land. Reducing the time taken for evictions would also improve the response.
* Injunctions that cover larger areas:
Injunctions have been made in court both banning unauthorised encampments on pieces of land, as well as banning individuals from establishing encampments in a borough.
He added: “So far, these injunctions have only been achieved by individual local councils, says Mr Jamieson, though if a family is causing issues in part of the Black Country, we know that same family will often prove difficult in Birmingham, Solihull or Coventry.
“Once again a regional approach would improve the situation, banning individuals for up to two years from the West Midlands instead of a single council.
“So much time and money is spent on obtaining court injunctions, which is why it would be beneficial to see them support local residents across the entire West Midlands.”
He added: “This will be a significant opportunity for MPs to raise the issue of unauthorised traveller encampments and the weakness of policing powers on the issue. I hope local MPs push the Government to take the urgent action we need.
“It is a minority of the travelling community that cause problems and have been allowed to give the whole community a bad name. However, the anger felt by the public towards that minority is very real and understandable.”
Debates on travellers are taking place on Monday October 9 in the Commons and Thursday October 12 in Westminster Hall.
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