Many residents have contacted me about the recent appearance of illegal traveller encampments around Northampton, particularly in Abington Park and Kingsthorpe Recreational Ground, and the Councillor for Kingsthorpe North has also been in touch. I have been particularly concerned by reports of intimidation, criminal damage and littering.
I am aware that action has been taken, for example, through the erection of bollards to try to prevent vehicular access to much of Northampton’s green space; however, it is clear that more has to be done. The Police do have robust powers to be able to deal with such encampments, including Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (the power to remove trespassers on land), but it is important that these powers are used appropriately.
I have now written to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP, the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police to raise the issue of travellers and to see what can be done to resolve the matter.
I have always been pro-active in the matter of illegal traveller encampments, as I was last summer when Northampton saw a rise in the number of encampments. Indeed, I wrote at the time to the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable then to ask what is being done about the issue and to ask them to review the powers available to them to deal with the situation, in order to ensure that everything possible is being done. In response, I was told that they would be looking at the powers available to them and that they do everything they can to respond to such matters.
I also helped in arranging a debate in the House of Commons on the issue of travellers in my previous ministerial role as the Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. You can read about this by clicking on the following links: https://www.michaelellis.co.uk/news/michael-addresses-northamptons-traveller-situation and https://www.michaelellis.co.uk/news/michael-helps-arrange-commons-debate-travellers.
I know first-hand that these matters are dealt with expeditiously as in the past when I have written to Northampton Borough Council (NBC) the Countywide Travellers Unit (CTU) do often take swift action. I want to make sure that the law is upheld so I would urge anyone who sees a traveller’s camp to report them to the CTU using the following link: http://www3.northamptonshire.gov.uk/councilservices/environment-and-planning/gypsies-and-travellers/Pages/default.aspx.