My Force has been asked to assist with the Dale Farm Traveller site eviction and I am getting briefed on the role of our PSU teams. I have read some of the recent rhetoric on the subject. From the right we have calls to bulldoze the site and throw them all off into the sunset and from the left we have calls for compassion, human rights and understanding of the honourable nomadic people. The cause is now being taken over by the usual anti establishment leftie brigade who are rushing to the scene. The proposition of a chance to bash a few coppers is too much to resist.
Dale Farm is green belt land which is occupied by Irish Travellers. The land was agricultural land which has been bought by some of the travellers. All over the country the same thing is happening. There are three illegal encampments in the area I work. The Council are in the process of taking similar enforcement action against two of the sites. The third, they tried to take action but the Court decided that no eviction could take place as there is an elderly lady living there who is ill. When she finally pops off the Council can try again, but if history is anything to go by there will be a pregnant mother or sick child who cannot be moved for one reason or another.
What do I know about Irish travellers? Well when I attend diversity training a Christian traveller lady comes to talk to us. She tells us about the history, the culture and the morality of the traveller community. She talks about the work they do, the travelling and of her own Christian travelling community.
Like nearly all police officers I have had many dealings with travellers over the years. I remember the first non payment of fines warrant I ever tried to execute. It was at the home of a settled traveller family. I knocked on the door and an upstairs window was opened by the person named on the warrant. I explained why I was there and he shouted "Fuck off." No power of entry for a fines warrant, so I did.
Most traveller families keep themselves to themselves and are no different to any other community. A significant number however are criminal and antisocial and have also settled green belt and common land. The travellers sites in my area have never ending piles of tree cuttings and other rubbish dumped on the roads near the site. The Council spend a fortune cleaning up after the few who give the majority a bad name. If we attend the sites we always have to have extra officers to guard police vehicles or they will be damaged. Artifice burglaries are almost exclusively committed by Travellers.
The romantic notion of the community travelling on the open road is pure bunkum. Some Travellers attend the odd fair and visit family occasionally but the vast majority do not move from one year to the next.
I have also learnt that Traveller children generally attend junior school and then most drop out. The girls leave to help mothers look after younger siblings and the boys go to work with their father's. Very few traveller women work. Their role is to cook, clean, bear children and look after their men and children.
It is children that are the main issue with the Traveller community. Most of the girls are married before 18 and they have large families. The Traveller community is therefore growing at a significant rate. If we accept the male dominated, sexist culture that brings this about then we are either going to have to allocate more traveller sites or accept that more an more green belt land will be occupied by Travellers. If the latter happens then there may be more and more Dale Farms to deal with.
The opinions and views expressed here are mine, and mine alone. They do not necessarily reflect the policies and views of the Utopian Police Force nor the City of Utopia.
The stories I tell here are all true but my purpose is not technical accuracy. My purpose is to illustrate the nature of policing in an educational and entertaining way.
I have tried to respect the privacy of the citizens of the city and to relate specific facts without identifying individuals. I believe I succeed in this but if you do recognize yourself and believe others will too, please contact me and I shall rectify it.