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BASW briefs policymakers on anti-GRT proposals ahead of next stage of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Members of the GRT community have the right not to be harassed and discriminated against on the basis of their ethnic identity and way of life

On Monday 5 July the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will have its Report and Third Reading stages in the House of Commons.  This is an opportunity for MPs, on the floor of the House, to consider further amendments (proposals for change) to the Bill. 

The proposed legislation is deeply concerning for a variety of reasons. One area of particular concern for BASW is Part 4 of the Bill which discriminates against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. The proposals include making ‘trespass with intent to reside’ a criminal offence and give authorities extra powers to seize vehicles – which in many cases are family homes or essential for work purposes – as well as impose fines and imprisonment. The outcome of these measures will be a likely increase in homelessness, poverty, and involvement of social services. More Gypsies and Travellers will also be pushed into the criminal justice system, where they are already over-represented.

BASW has produced two sets of briefings for MPs and other policymakers ahead of the report stage.

View and download the briefings:

Ruth Allen, BASW CEO, said: “Much of the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill is objectionable, and a disproportionate response to the issues that it seeks to address. We do not support unnecessarily high prison sentences for vandalism, and any weakening of the right to protest is a scandal.

“But Part 4 of this Bill will result in further direct discrimination of a group of people simply for how they choose to live. It is for this reason, that we can encourage parliamentarians to vote in favour of all amendments that remove or weaken Part 4.

“Members of the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community face enough prejudice and obstacles without adding on a threat of police action simply in case a crime is committed.

“Like all people, members of the GRT community have the right not to be harassed and discriminated against on the basis of their ethnic identity and way of life. This means safe, sites provided by local authorities and support to ensure that they can live their lives free of hatred and discrimination.”