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PROPOSED new laws to criminalise travelling people could also be used against people staging protests, a meeting in Leeds was told.
The government is carrying out a “consultation” with the intention of turning trespass into a crime rather than a civil offence.
As reported in the Morning Star, if the law comes into effect, travelling people will be criminalised for setting up unauthorised camps and their mobile homes could also be confiscated.
Leeds Gypsy & Traveller Exchange (Gate), a member-led charity that campaigns for the rights of travelling people, is campaigning against the proposed new laws.
The group hosted a packed meeting in the city, where concerns were raised that the proposed new laws are an attempt to eradicate Gypsies and Travellers’ way of life and could also be used to prevent protests.
Leeds Gate chief executive Helen Jones said: “Even the national police chiefs’ council has objected to these plans — but the government seems determined to push ahead, despite the horrendous effect this will have on Gypsies and Travellers, protesters, homeless people, mobile-homers and others.”
One Traveller told the meeting she was “fed up of the accepted prejudice and hatred in this country towards Gypsy and Traveller people. The level of bigotry faced by this minority is an absolute joke, and it seems to be accepted right up to the top, within government itself.”
Another said: “When I was a child in the ’60s I felt the people in power were trying to destroy my family. What this government is proposing will finish the job if we can’t stop them.”
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