Po­lice boss in call for Mid­land-wide ban on trav­ellers

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Editor

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

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