Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Complained to the Chief Constable about lack of police action on traveller sites in Theale

I was frustrated that the police did not use their powers to move travellers on from sites in Theale so I complained to the local Chief Inspector. She was away, as was her Chief Inspector colleague and her Superintendent. I therefore complained to the Chief Constable. After an interim holding reply from a Chief Superintendent, I got the following from Inspector Ward (based in Pangbourne):

Dear Mr Macro,

I am aware that Chief Superintendent Wong contacted you yesterday regarding your email about the current encampments in Theale.

Prior to the current incursion, there was a similar incident earlier in May and those involved finally moved on the 21st May after the Local Authority had given a direction to leave. They are barred from returning to the land for three months by S77 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. A new group moved on to the same land on the 28th May whom it was suspected had come from the Reading area. The Local Authority again gave a direction to leave the land by tomorrow morning at which point they would then apply to the court for a summons. Clearly the local residents are very frustrated that after the previous group left it has been possible for other people to come on to the same land. However, the process has to start again as regards their removal.

The lead agency for unauthorised encampments is the Local Authority. The role of the police is to support the Local Authority in a proportionate manner. Whilst we have powers under S61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to direct immediate removal, we must take note of guidance from the National Police Chief’s Council and Authorised Professional Practice in determining when to exercise these powers. Up to this point, it has been decided that the exercise of those powers is not necessary or proportionate in Woodfield Way. We do work closely with the Local Authority in relation to these incidents and there is a shared understanding of our respective roles and responsibilities. This morning officers have attended the location again with Jean Pimley. I am aware that staff from the Local Authority have also been liaising with local residents to keep them informed.

There has been a large number of unauthorised encampments in Berkshire recently involving different groups moving around. We are doing our best to manage these within the legislation available to us.

Yours sincerely,
Chris Ward

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