|Gypsy and Traveller Scrutiny Project
2004, the CRE launched its Gypsy and Traveller scrutiny project.
invited council officers, police officers, education and health providers,
Gypsies and Irish Travellers and local support bodies to tell us about with
their experiences of local authority race equality practices in relation to
Gypsies and Irish Travellers.
The research focused on planning, site
provision and eviction, and will lead to detailed practical guidance for local
authorities. We intend to publish a report in mid-2006, which will be available
to download from this website.
During the evidence gathering phase, we
sought information about:
- the extent to which local authorities promote race equality in
relation to planning for Gypsy sites;
- the extent to which local authorities promote race equality in
relation to planning enforcement and eviction, including the use of external
- the extent to which local authorities consult with Gypsies, Irish
Travellers and other racial groups about Gypsy site provision;
- whether local authorities monitor their Gypsy site provision and
unauthorised encampment policies for their impact on race
- whether local authorities consult before changing policies relating to
Gypsy site provision and unauthorised encampments;
- how local authorities meet the needs of homeless Gypsies and Irish
- how local authorities balance rights and responsibilities of different
racial groups, resolve community tensions and promote good race
- how local authorities mainstream Gypsy and Irish Traveller issues into
- how district and county authorities work together over Gypsy and Irish
Traveller issues; and
- potential direct or indirect discrimination against Gypsies and Irish
Travellers in relation to planning, site provision and eviction.
Police, education and health bodies
- whether police promote race equality for Gypsies and Irish Travellers,
particularly in relation to eviction policies and practices and joint protocols
with local authorities.
- the impact of accommodation provision on education and
evidence shows that Travellers and Gypsies are some of the most vulnerable and
marginalised ethnic minority groups in Britain. ‘No Travellers’ signs in pubs
and shops can still be seen today, and councils no longer have a statutory duty
to provide sites for Gypsy and Traveller families, spending small fortunes each
year evicting them, instead. Gypsy and Traveller children are taunted and
bullied in school, local residents are openly hostile to them, and scare stories
in the media fuel prejudice and make racist attitudes acceptable.
strategy sets out:
- how we will use our statutory powers under the Race Relations Act to
help eliminate the long-standing disadvantage and discrimination experienced by
Gypsies and Travellers in Britain, make sure they receive equal opportunities
and fair treatment, and promote good relations between Gypsies and Travellers
and other groups;
- the outcomes we hope to see in racial equality for Gypsies and
Travellers, and in better relations between them and other communities;
We consulted widely on the strategy, holding
meetings in Perth, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Manchester, Birmingham and London. We
also sent cassette summaries of the strategy to Gypsies, Travellers and their
support groups, and invited telephone and written responses. We are grateful for
all the comments and views we received – from Gypsies and Travellers, Gypsy and
Traveller organisations and support groups, local and other public authorities,
and other agencies interested in policy in this area. We hope the strategy now
reflects their views, and the concerns they raised.
- the action we will take over the next three years to realise these
Geographic scope of this strategy
applies to England. Sections 1-8 discuss the situation in Wales and Scotland,
although an adapted version is being produced for Wales and a separate strategy
for Scotland is currently out for consultation (ntil 31 October 2005).
We shall also be producing detailed action plans each year.
Prejudice and overt discrimination are the daily
experience of Gypsy and Traveller people. In an era in which it would now be
unthinkable for landlords to use the No blacks, no Irish, no dogs signs of the
1950s, No Traveller signs are a frequent occurrence, despite constant challenge
by the CRE
Quote from a speech given by CRE deputy chair Sarah
Spencer at the British Institute of Human Rights Lecture, London, on 11 March
Discrimination and prejudice against Gypsy Travellers in Scotland is
widespread and overt. Scottish Gypsy Travellers are one of the most marginalised
communities within our society routinely unable to access services that the
majority take for granted. Racism against Gypsy Travellers is rife and is
fuelled by unbalanced and inaccurate media reporting.
Taking action to
counter the discrimination and harassment experienced by Scottish Gypsy
Travellers is a key priority for the CRE in Scotland.
We have developed a
draft strategy which sets out the actions we plan to take and which complements
the CREs Gypsies and Travellers strategy for England. You can download this
document in Microsoft Word format from the link below.
The deadline for
consultation responses to the draft strategy was 31st October 2005.
are currently considering the responses received and will publish the final
strategy in early 2006.
Phone: 020 7939 0072 /
0106 / 0113
Outside office hours, call the
duty press officer on 07876 453779
Fax: 020 7939 0004
|The Commission for Racial Equality has the responsibility for:
- Working towards the elimination of discrimination.
- Promoting equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups generally.
under review the working of the Race Relations Act and, when required
by the Home Secretary or when it otherwise thinks it necessary, to draw
up and submit to the Home Secretary proposals for amending it.
Its powers include;
- Undertaking formal investigations into discriminatory practices which are unsuitable to be dealt with on an individual basis.
- Supporting individuals taking up complaints of discrimination.
issue Codes of Practice on employment. The first Code was approved by
Parliament in 1984. It is not legally binding, but can be used in
evidence at an Employment Tribunal.
- To examine areas of policy outside the scope of the RRA.
- To issue non-discrimination notices.
- To fund research and other projects.
apply for an injunction if it believes someone has broken the law and
is likely to go on doing so. In the following circumstances, it is the
Commission for Racial Equality alone which can take action, such as
applying for an injunction, if discrimination has taken place:
- (a) if an advertisement demonstrates an intention to discriminate unlawfully.
- (b) if someone instructs an employee or agent to discriminate unlawfully.
- (c) if someone puts pressure on anyone else to discriminate unlawfully.
Commission for Racial Equality investigations
- To enforce the specific duties introduced by the Race Relations Act 2000.
The Commission for Racial Equality can conduct ‘formal investigations’ into any subject it chooses
Commission must give notice of its intention to hold a formal
investigation and draw up terms of reference. If it is investigating a
particular organisation or person, and states in the terms of reference
that it believes they are discriminating unlawfully, then it will be
able to require them to give evidence or produce information.
during or at the end of an investigation, the Commission for Racial
Equality can make recommendations for changes which would promote
equality of opportunity. These recommendations will not be legally
binding, but could be used to bring pressure on the organisation or
person, or as evidence in an individual case against them.
Commission for Racial Equality will be able to issue a
non-discrimination notice if it decides, during a formal investigation,
that an organisation or individual has discriminated unlawfully.
non-discrimination notice requires the organisation or person named in
it to stop discriminating unlawfully and, if necessary, to let the
people concerned know what changes have been made in their procedures
or arrangements in order to obey the non-discrimination notice.
issuing the notice, the Commission for Racial Equality must warn the
organisation or person concerned that it is thinking of issuing a
non-discrimination notice, and give them 28 days to make
representations. Once the notice is issued, the organisation or person
named can appeal to the Employment Tribunal (in an employment case) or
the County Court. The appeal must be made within six weeks of the issue
of the notice.
If the appeal fails, or no appeal is made, the
non-discrimination notice becomes final; in other words, it can be
enforced. The Commission for Racial Equality keeps a register of
notices that have become final and anyone is entitled to inspect this
register and take a copy of any notice in it.
non-discrimination notice can only be enforced if the Commission for
Racial Equality goes to court and gets an injunction. It can do this at
any time within five years of when the notice becomes final if it
thinks that the organisation or person named in the notice will
continue to discriminate unlawfully.
An injunction is an order
by a County Court or the High Court ordering someone to stop acting in
a particular way. If the organisation or person does not obey the
injunction, they will be in contempt of court and the Commission for
Racial Equality can apply to the court to have the people involved
fined or imprisoned.
The Commission for Racial Equality may also
apply to the County Court for an injunction without issuing a
non-discrimination notice in the following circumstances:
someone has successfully brought a complaint against an individual or
organisation and the Commission considers that the individual or
organisation will go on discriminating unlawfully.
the Commission considers that someone has discriminated unlawfully and
is likely to go on doing so; in this case, the Commission must itself
apply to the Employment Tribunal or County Court to get a finding that
the person concerned has in fact discriminated unlawfully.
the Commission considers that someone has published an unlawful
advertisement, instructed an employee or agent to discriminate
unlawfully, or put pressure on anybody else to discriminate unlawfully.
Only the CRE can take action on these kinds of unlawful acts.
There are not enough authorised sites for Gypsies and Travellers
authorities used to have a legal duty to provide sites for Gypsies and
Travellers. In 1994 this obligation was removed following the Criminal
Justice and Public Order Act and, as a result, and along with 05 April
2006 a change in the use of land and more land being identified for
housing, there are now too few sites to accommodate all Gypsies and
latest figures from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) for
the number of caravans show that there are about 15,000 in the UK(1)
- The lack of permanent and transit sites throughout the country has forced Travellers to camp wherever they can.
- 72% or 10,836 of these are on authorised sites (5,946 on local authority sites and 4,890 authorised private sites).
or 4,232 are on unauthorised developments or encampments - 12% or 1,855
on unauthorised developments (where Gypsies and Travellers own the land
but do not have planning permission) and 16% or 2,377 on unauthorised
encampments (where Gypsies and Travellers do not own the land and
planning consent has not been given for use as a Gypsy and Traveller
The majority of Gypsies and Travellers, living on authorised sites or houses, do abide by the planning laws
- Since 1996 the number
of Gypsy and Traveller caravans has remained fairly constant, but the
number of caravans on unauthorised developments has increased, while
those on unauthorised encampments has decreased.
- 90% of Gypsy and Traveller planning permission applications are initially rejected compared to 20% overall (2).
Gypsies and Travellers do work
a result, some Gypsies and Travellers, certain that their applications
will be initially turned down, set up sites before obtaining – or even
applying for – planning permission.
finding work as licensed hawkers or pedlars, basket makers, horse
dealers and seasonal argricultural labourers, many Gypsies and
Travellers are now landscape gardeners, tarmacers, motor trade workers,
scrap metal dealers, tree fellers, and so on.
and Irish Travellers are recognised ethnic groups for the purposes of
the Race Relations Act (1976), identified as having a shared culture,
language and beliefs
Gypsies and Irish Travellers are employed as teachers, academics, and
health workers, while others work in the financial sector and in the
sport, leisure and entertainment industries.
- Roma are recorded in Greece and Turkey around 1000AD and in Scotland in 1505.
- 'Gypsy' is thought to be a derivative of Egyptian, which is what the settled population believed the Roma to be.
- Irish Travellers have been known as a distinct group since 400AD.
Gypsies and Travellers are nomadic people
law established Gypsies as a recognised ethnic group in 1988 (CRE v
Dutton) and Irish Travellers in England and Wales in August 2000
(O'Leary v Allied Domecq).
- Planning law defines Gypsies and Irish Travellers as people with a nomadic way of life.
- Whilst this is historically true, 90% of Gypsies across the world now live in houses.
groups are highly mobile, moving on when work opportunities have been
exhausted and others reside permanently in one area or only travel for
several weeks or months of the year, returning to their home base for
the winter months.
- Nomadism is more prevalent in Western Europe but even here only 50% of Gypsies live in caravans.
- Even when Gypsies and Irish Travellers live in houses their culture and heritage stays with them.
It is estimated that there are between 200,000 and 300,000 Gypsies and Travellers living in the UK (3)
romantic view of horse-drawn caravans has long since passed. Gypsies
and Irish Travellers now use modern, good quality vehicles and caravans
and visit districts to ply their various trades.
majority of Gypsies and Irish Travellers live perfectly legally in
trailers (caravans) on local authority owned or privately owned sites
- A minority live on the road-side and in unauthorised encampments as a result of too few legal sites.
Gypsies and Travellers do pay taxes
- There are also many Gypsies and Irish Travellers living in privately owned houses or in council housing.
Gypsies and Irish Travellers living on a local authority or privately
owned sites pay rates, rent, gas, electricity and all other associated
charges, measured and charged in the same way as neighbouring houses.
- Those living on unauthorised encampments do not pay rates, but they also don’t receive services.
The vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers seek to cause as little disruption to the lives of the settled community as possible
- All Gypsies and Irish Travellers are charged VAT on everything they buy.
the majority of Gypsies and Irish Travellers remove their rubbish
before they move on, it has been found that where there has been a
Traveller encampment there has, on occasion, been refuse and discarded
household items left.
- Many councils have found that it is cost effective to provide skips and portable toilets.
There is no evidence to suggest that incidence of crime is far higher amongst Gypsies and Travellers
culture is built upon strict codes of cleanliness learnt over centuries
of life on the road. Concepts such as mokadi and mahrime(4) include
strict guidelines. For example, dogs are not allowed in trailers or
anywhere near plates or cutlery.
Gypsies and Travellers are more prone to ill-health
- Criminal justice agencies do not ethnically monitor Gypsies and Irish Travellers, so accurate statistics are not available.
Gypsies and Travellers, levels of prenatal mortality, stillbirths and
infant mortality are significantly higher than the national average.
Gypsy and Traveller pupils in England are the group most at risk of failure in the education system
is estimated that, on average, Gypsy and Traveller women live 12 years
less than women in the general population and Gypsy and Traveller men
ten years less than men in the general population.(5)
2003, 23% of Roma Gypsy pupils and 42% of Irish Traveller pupils in
England obtained five or more A*-C GCSEs, compared with an overall
average of 51%. 22% of Roma Gypsy pupils and 17% of Irish Traveller
pupils obtained no passes, compared with 6% on average. (6)
and Traveller children, particularly those of secondary age, have much
lower levels of school attendance than pupils from other groups. By Key
Stage 3, it is estimated that only 15-20% of Traveller pupils are
registered or regularly attend school. (7)