Rightly or wrongly the travelling community have a bad name and people are wary of them when they see a line of caravans and cars coming down the road, obviously looking for somewhere to pitch a temporary encampment. But, as is often the case, the activities of a few are responsible for the negative perception of the many.
In mid-April 2020, Channel 4 broadcast one of their award-winning Dispatches programmes which had analysed crime statistics regarding the association between crime levels and some traveller sites. The results found that crime increased by about 50% near some UK Traveller sites and offences included extortion, theft, vandalism and violence. Data from around another 200 sites in England revealed crime rates there are also a third higher than the average in a quarter of cases. Not surprisingly the programme attracted negative comment which suggested it was biased against the travelling community. However, C4 robustly rebutted this and claimed it has a strong track record and remit to conduct public debate including about difficult and uncomfortable issues and said the programme examined an important issue which was addressed fairly, accurately, and with due impartiality in accordance with the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.
A well-known member of the travelling community commented to the Sun newspaper about the programme. Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star, Paddy Doherty, told of his frustration the entire community could be tarred by a few families. He said: “If the country people has been wrecked by the travellers, well, you can’t blame the country people, can you, and you can’t blame the police, can you? But it’s not all the Travellers on that site, it’s only maybe two or three families, and that’s why they should be put off that site. Yeah, in the long run… like, there’s 20 families on there, but there’s two families what’s torching all the country, the corner shops, robbing them, baiting them, slapping them about, doing what they’re going to do. And that paints the other 17 like the other three, do you know what I mean?”
Whatever your opinion on the issue people ARE wary of the travelling community, especially land and property owners, and there is plenty of evidence of the mess and destruction left at a site after Travellers have occupied then moved on. It’s flytipping and dumping of noxious waste at its very worst, both of which need specialist removal by professionals at huge cost to the landowner.
However, there are measures land and property owners can take to prevent trespass and illegal occupation of their site, especially in these times of lockdown when so much property is sitting vacant, unsecured and unvisited.
Concrete blocks. Boring and basic but ideal; with or without the addition of Heras fencing to give an even greater level of security. It’s all about the deterrent factor even though determined trespassers may have the capability to breach a secured perimeter, the addition of CCTV or a video-verified alarm system may be sufficient to prevent a breach becoming some form of semi-permanent illegal occupation.
Prevention is always better than cure.
Photo Credit: SWNS: South West News Service