Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Articles

Housing and Planning Bill 2016 Clause 115

We have had sight of the draft guidance now made available by DCLG. The EHRC’s Briefing Paper sets out all the key arguments for the retention of the current statutory scheme – i.e. sections 225/226 Housing Act 2004 when read together with section 8 Housing Act 1985 – and we cannot improve upon its content. There is an even greater need for the current statutory scheme to remain in place so as to ensure that those vulnerable Gypsies and Travellers who are now excluded from relying upon the positive planning guidance on the provision of caravan sites contained in Planning policy for traveller sites 2015 by virtue of the change to the planning definition of ‘gypsies and travellers’ can have their accommodation needs properly met. Clause 115 and the draft guidance will, quite simply, not achieve this.  For the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s briefing paper see: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/housing-and-planning-bill-house-lords-committee-stage

Marc Willers QC, Garden Court Chambers Chris Johnson, Travellers Advice Team at Community Law Partnership

March 15th 2016

The Ministry of Injustice?

Legal Aid and Judicial Review – A Community Law Partnership (CLP) Discussion Paper

Shortly before the General Election the Government introduced new regulations restricting the availability of legal aid in judicial review cases. Given that we now have a Conservative majority government, it seems that these regulations will remain in place. These regulations may have severely detrimental effects on Gypsies and Travellers and CLP believe these regulations are highly challengeable. If you want to discuss this matter or if you are a Gypsy or Traveller who wants to challenge these regulations please telephone us on our advice line, 0121 685 8677.

Scottish Police Guidance

TAT provide advice, assistance and representation throughout England and Wales.  We do not cover Scotland or Northern Ireland.  However, in his ongoing work on the Legal Action book on Gypsy and Traveller law, of which he is co-editor, Chris Johnson had reference to the latest version of the Police Scotland Guidance Gypsies/Travellers Management of Unauthorised Encampments : Standard Operating Procedure (2014).  This Guidance is extremely positive in the way it approaches the issue of unauthorised encampments and we hope that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), who are considering their own Guidance which covers England and Wales, will have reference to the Scottish Guidance.  To take just one example:-

6.4 Although unauthorised encampment is a criminal offence, in accordance with the Scottish Government Guidelines for Managing Unauthorised Camping by Gypsies/Travellers in Scotland, there is a general presumption against prosecution of Gypsies/Travellers for setting up unauthorised encampments.  Prosecution will only be considered when:-

 a) A suitable alternative stopping place has been identified and the Gypsies/Travellers have refused to re-locate within a reasonable time (it is the responsibility of the local authority to identify the stopping place.  The Police have no power to do this); or    b) Where the use of a particular site by Gypsies/Travellers, or the excessive size of the encampment, causes a severe road safety or public health hazard; or

 c) Where the same Gypsies/Travellers have been repeatedly evicted from a site by the local authority and return after a short time.

6.5 Failure by a Local Authority to assess or make provision for the needs of Gypsies/Travellers will serve to reinforce the presumption against prosecution.  However, the presumption may be overridden by other public interest considerations arguing in favour of prosecution.  This may include serious disruption to businesses and/or members of the public as a result of offensive or criminal behaviour by Gypsies/Travellers. 

Gypsy Roma Traveller Integration Strategies

In 2011 the European Union called on all member states to produce strategies in this area. The UK government have failed to produce a proper strategy. The National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups are now carrying out work on this vital issue. As part of this process we have produced a discussion paper. Here it is:

Attachments

Total Attachments: 1

CLP Discussion Paper - GRT Strategies (36 KB)