Police comment as Travellers ‘cause damage and scream d*******s’ on playing fields near Chesterfield
Concerns have been raised about the police response after Travellers ‘broke down a gate’ and set up camp on playing fields near Chesterfield.
The Travellers moved on to the land at North Side, Tupton, on Sunday.
Amid residents’ complaints, Councillor Ross Shipman, leader of the Liberal Democrats on North East Derbyshire District Council (NEDDC), said he had spoken to police about the ongoing situation.
He told the Derbyshire Times: “Police have said they are impotent because ‘the law is inadequate’ to deal with the situation quick.
“The message this sends to our community is that anyone can break down a gate, enter the property and refuse to move for days on end.
“It’s not what people expect and it’s on senior police officers to lobby Government for stronger laws to tackle trespassing and criminal damage.”
He added: “There are multiple sites across north Derbyshire for Travellers to use, and the knock on effect to what has happened is youth engagement and sporting matches have had to be cancelled.
“There is also significant damage to the gate as well as damage to the fields for vehicles driving all over them.”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire Constabulary said: “We are aware that a group of Travellers has moved on to land at Tupton and that the council is using the powers available to it to move the group on.
“The force has powers to forcibly remove anyone trespassing on land under Section 61 but certain aggravating factors have to be met to allow us to use this legislation.
“Partner organisations must work together to consider the best options and make sure the rights are balanced for all parties, including the Travellers, ensuring a proportionate, legal and necessary response.”
On our Facebook page, some people have defended the Travellers – with one woman saying ‘stop judging and show kindness’.
“We’re all human and we’ve all got to live and help each other,” she added.
In response, Liberal Democrat Councillor David Hancock, who serves Tupton on NEDDC, said: “There are several sites, with proper facilities, within two miles – but they still broke the gate to get into the playing field.
“We asked them to leave by Tuesday, so that scheduled school holiday activities could take place – they wouldn’t and drove all over the playing fields shouting ‘d*******s’.
“They’ve been given black bags to dispose of litter – the site is covered in rubbish and excrement.
“So, respectfully, we’re not the ones judging them.”
Another reader said on Facebook: “There’s good and bad in every town and city and it’s the same in the Travelling community but the majority I know are good, honest people.
“Don’t tar every Traveller with the same brush.”
A spokesperson for NEDDC told the Derbyshire Times on Monday afternoon: “The council is supporting partner organisations and working with the Travellers to resolve the situation at Tupton.
“We have provided waste bags as ways to reduce any impact on the site and will work together to ensure a safe and proper outcome.”