UK

Priti Patel’s Demonization of Gypsies An Attack For Political Gain

[The home secretary,Priti Patel, this month announced plans to crack down on unauthorised Traveller camps, including by making trespass a criminal offence. But police responses to a consultation launched last year about dealing with such encampments show forces are opposed to such a move.]

This is how it begins: with a theatrical attack on a vulnerable minority. It’s a Conservative tradition, during election campaigns, to vilify Romany Gypsies and Travellers: it tends to play well on the doorsteps of middle England. But what the home secretary, Priti Patel, proposed last week is something else. It amounts to legislative cleansing.

The consultation document she released on the last day of parliament aims to “test the appetite to go further” than any previous laws. It suggests that the police should be able immediately to confiscate the vehicles of “anyone whom they suspect to be trespassing on land with the purpose of residing on it”. Until successive Conservative governments began working on it, trespass was a civil and trivial matter. Now it is treated as a crime so serious that on mere suspicion you can lose your home.

When I say “you”, obviously I don’t mean you, unless you are a Romany Gypsy, a traditional Traveller or a New Traveller. If you’re on holiday in your caravan, it does not affect you. It applies only if you have “intent to reside” in your vehicle “for any period”. In other words, it is specifically aimed at travelling peoples. It is clearly and deliberately discriminatory.

Read more: George Monbiot: Guardian, https://is.gd/t0AHPI

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