Opinion: Most Travellers are law-abiding – but those in Chesterfield recently should hang heads in shame
Over the last week or so, Travellers have illegally set up camp in the Chesterfield area.
Local councillors told the Derbyshire Times they caused damage to the playing fields at Tupton and left human excrement at the site before they were evicted.
This is, quite frankly, completely unacceptable behaviour.
Anyone who visits our area should respect it and abide by the law.
The vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers who have a nomadic way of life are law-abiding people.
But that small minority who break the law locally should hang their heads in shame.
Earlier this year, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the Government will strengthen police powers and create a new criminal offence to tackle unauthorised encampments.
She said: “This new offence will enable the police to fine or arrest those residing without permission on private or public land in vehicles in order to stop significant disruption, distress or harm being caused to the law-abiding majority.”
A Home Office spokesperson added: “Police will be given powers to seize vehicles and arrest offenders. The measures will target harmful encampments which reflect badly on the wider nomadic community as a whole, the majority of whom are law-abiding.”
Gypsy and Traveller campaigners reacted to the Government’s announcement with anger.
“You are criminalising a problem that has been created by the failings of a political will to deliver appropriate accommodation,” Joseph Jones, of the Gypsy Council, told Ms Patel.
There are four legal Traveller sites in Derbyshire, according to Derbyshire County Council.
The question is – should there be more to tackle the problem of illegal encampments in the future and, if so, where should they be?
Last Thursday, I joined DT colleagues for a community engagement event at Chesterfield’s Pavements Shopping Centre.
Thanks to everyone who stopped to speak to us to give their feedback on the DT.
We’ve made lots of improvements to our newspaper and online coverage in recent months, and it was fantastic to hear so many people speak highly about what we do.
A number of people said the paper had really improved lately.
We’re always keen to find out people’s suggestions on how we can improve even more – so if you’ve something to say, please get in touch.