Police need to be more 'robust' in moving on travellers in the town says Northampton MP

Traveller camps have been a regular feature of Northampton's parks again this summer. A set of bollards intended to deter such encampments at Abington Park, above, were ripped up.
Traveller camps have been a regular feature of Northampton's parks again this summer. A set of bollards intended to deter such encampments at Abington Park, above, were ripped up.

A Northampton MP has called the police handling of a summer spate of traveller camps in the town as "simply not good enough"

In July, motorhome and caravan encampments have caused disruption to public green spaces such as Abington Park and the Racecourse, where a series of summer events have been held.

MP Michael Ellis says police need to use the full range of powers available to them to move the camps along.

MP Michael Ellis says police need to use the full range of powers available to them to move the camps along.

This weekend organisers of the charity Colour Rush event had to relocate from Abington Park to The Raceourse when a 15-vehicle settlement arrived there. Then, once the event had been moved, the traveller camp moved to the Racecourse also.

Yesterday, another illegal encampment pitched up on an unused section of road next to Sandy Lane in Duston.

Northampton North MP Michael Ellis has now urged the police to be more robust in moving the groups on.

"I have this morning met Nick Adderly, who will begin work as the new Chief Constable of Northamptonshire in August.

A traveller camp at the Racecourse forced the Colour rush event to change its route.

A traveller camp at the Racecourse forced the Colour rush event to change its route.

"I told him I am not happy with the current police response to travellers in Northampton. It is simply not good enough, and my constituents are demanding action.

"I hope and expect to see stronger and more robust leadership going forward, and a full use of the powers available to the police."

Police have powers under Section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act to to remove travellers if there are: two or more of them and a police officer believes they intend to “reside” there; they have been asked to leave by the owner; they have caused damage to land or property; they have been threatening or abusive to the landowner; or they have six or more vehicles between them."

The traveller camp at the Racecourse, however, was due to leave the park yesterday after Northampton Borough Council intervened over the weekend.

Labour councillor Danielle Stone for Abington and Phippsville said: “There was some disruption caused to the Colour Run and I would like to thank the participants for their patience and making that event so successful.

"This type of incursion is happening far too regularly and it really does need addressing with a permanent solution in the future.”

Superintendent Emily Vernon, head of local policing, said: “Northamptonshire Police recognises the impact that unauthorised encampments have upon the community and we continue to work with local authorities and community representatives in addressing ongoing concerns regarding unauthorised encampments.

“Where an encampment is on private land, it is the landowners responsibility to remove it, and the County Travellers Unit can provide landowners with advice and support. Trespassing on land – including where people set up encampments without authority - is in itself a civil matter only and would require the landowner to pursue their own action to repossess the land.

“The police and local authorities have powers to remove unauthorised encampments in certain circumstances. Police powers are only applicable where there is evidence of criminal or anti-social behaviour. We work in partnership with local councils to identify the most appropriate powers in each case, and use of any powers must be necessary, reasonable and proportionate, depending on the circumstances.

“Northamptonshire Police is committed to robustly implementing police powers when it is appropriate to do so. As a result of feedback that we have received, I have reviewed our use of powers as Head of local policing and I am satisfied that police actions have been appropriate to the circumstances in each case, and we continue to review and learn from every case on an ongoing basis.”