Police boss in call for Midland-wide ban on travellers
TRAVELLERS could be banned from the entire West Midlands if the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner gets his way.
David Jamieson has called on ministers to give him the authority to banish groups from the entire region.
Local councils already have the power to ban travellers in some circumstances – but there is nothing to stop them moving to a neighbouring local authority within the combined authority.
However, Mr Jamieson is calling for the power to ban them from the entire area covered by the West Midlands Combined Authority, which was set up in 2016. This includes Birmingham, Solihull, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Coventry.
Speaking in the Commons, Local Government Minister Alok Sharma said: “Of course I will ensure that I meet the police and crime commissioner, or that a Home Office Minister does so if that is more appropriate.”
He said he had seen Mr Jamieson’s proposals, adding: “I have seen the piece of work that was produced, and it is an incredibly useful document.”
The PCC said it should be possible to ban individuals for up to two years from the West Midlands if they set up an illegal encampment.
He said banning groups which engage in criminal activity from the whole West Midlands for three months at a time “would be a serious deterrent”.
Mr Jamieson also wants councils to be allowed to order travellers to move to an authorised encampment in a neighbouring authority.
West Midlands MPs spoke in the House of Commons to raise concerns about crime and anti-social behaviour but stressed that only a minority of travellers were responsible.
Birmingham MP Steve McCabe (Lab, Selly Oak) said Birmingham City Council had spent £700,000 attempting to enforce the law and cleaning up sites in the past year, and there had been 395 unauthorised encampments across the seven West Midlands authorities.
Dudley North MP Ian Austin (Lab) told MPs: “Parks and public open spaces have all been used for illegal encampments. Gates have been broken and bollards removed to access the sites.
“Residents and their kids have been unable to use community facilities and parks.
“Vehicles have been driven in a dangerous and antisocial way, destroying the environment and putting local people at risk, as well as the travellers and their children.
“Some of the sites have been left with huge amounts of rubbish and waste, including in some cases, unbelievably, human waste in play areas.”
> Commissioner David Jamieson