Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe is to organise a county-wide round table meeting involving all agencies responsible for tackling the problems caused by unauthorised traveller encampments in the county. The meeting, which will be held within the next few weeks, will look at the current situation in the county and examine how effectively agencies work together.
Police and County Council representatives – including the two Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officers – will be invited, alongside representatives of the five district and borough councils and the six county Members of Parliament. Alongside the current policies and practices of each responding agency, the meeting will also consider whether lessons can be learned from approaches taken elsewhere in the country and discuss if current legislative powers are sufficient. It is hoped the meeting can be arranged within a matter of weeks at a venue in Nuneaton.
It follows the announcement this week by Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council that it will put its own policy on dealing with such issues up for debate and discussion by its Scrutiny Committee, following a number of recent unauthorised encampments in the borough.
Mr Seccombe said: “I welcome any opportunity to examine how well agencies are working together to solve the issues caused by unauthorised encampments by travellers, however this is a problem which affects all parts of Warwickshire and I think a county-wide approach is required and would be much more beneficial.
“I understand that the numbers of unauthorised encampments in Warwickshire have risen in recent years by around 30 percent and I fully understand the difficulties they can cause to local residents and to businesses. It is therefore vitally important that the agencies with statutory responsibility to deal with these issues work together quickly and effectively.
“By holding a county-wide round table meeting we can quickly understand what works well, what can be improved, what lessons might be learned from elsewhere and also how the existing legislation can be used to its best effect. I also want to include the county’s six Members of Parliament as well, so that we can discuss whether there are any practical suggestions for how legislation could be improved in the future if necessary.
“The meeting will also provide a valuable opportunity to highlight the processes which have to be followed by agencies when they seek to remove unauthorised encampments. I think there is a lot of confusion among the public as to when particular agencies can or cannot use their powers and I hope we can settle some common misconceptions.”
Invitations to relevant parties will be issued in the coming days once a date a venue are confirmed. A full summary report of the discussions will be published by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner following the meeting, along with any actions the agencies agree to undertake.