Police accused of failing vulnerable pensioner and refusing to attend crime in progress as travellers accused of criminal damage and threatening behaviour

Posted On 28 May 2016 at 10:19 pm

Sussex Police refused to turn out when travellers threatened a 70-year-old woman, moved a parked car and broke a gate to enter a woodland site, it was alleged today (Saturday 28 May).

The claim was made in a letter to Brighton and Hove City Council from the Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods.

The travellers were accused of forcing the pensioner’s car off the road and on to a chalk bank.

Sussex Police said that the travellers had permission from the council to occupy the site. They didn’t.

Despite claims of criminal damage and threatening behaviour in progress, the force refused to attend last night (Friday 27 May).

Eventually they turned out after Councillor Lee Wares stepped in at the site and called the police again.

Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods committee member Brenda Pollock has written on behalf of the group to Councillor Gill Mitchell, who chairs the council’s environment committee.

She wrote: “As you will be aware we have had issues with travellers parking and living on the grass areas in the past.

“Yesterday evening (Friday) travellers broke a gate, moved a parked car and gained access to the park despite local people reporting to police that this was in progress.

“The police would not come up to the site when it was reported as they said that ‘the landowner had given permission’.

“One of our committee members – Gill Taylor – was up at the site as she had been taking her granddaughter to the play area.

“She had been informed by members of the public that the travellers were trying to remove posts at the side of Ditchling Road at about 7.10pm.

“A neighbour reported this to police.

“When Gill returned later she found the travellers had broken a padlock on a gate at the side of the golf club access road and had moved her car which was parked in front of that gate. Previously travellers have broken in through this gate.

“An unfortunate 70-year-old lady who was leaving the allotments had her car forced off the road and on to a chalk bank which our group had planted up with wildflowers on a project with the council.

“Gill reported this to police as did Councillor Wares who came to the scene.

“Eventually two WPCs came to escort the old lady and her car off the grass.

“While all this was happening Gill and her son were threatened by the travellers – in front of her granddaughter.

“We have checked with (council leader) Warren Morgan who says that the council has not given permission for travellers to be there.

“Please could you investigate why the police seemed so reluctant to attend this crime and why they clearly stated that the travellers had permission.

“We have previously written to Warren saying that it is critical for the council and police to have some sort of process in place so that they can prevent travellers illegally getting on to land in the first place because we know from experience it is a very slow process to get them removed once they are there.

“We also know from previous experience the damage they will do to the site with waste and damage to benches and plants.

“I hope you can help in this matter. Our group works really hard to make this area a wonderful green space for local people to enjoy.

“It is so disheartening to not only see the travellers’ wanton disregard for other people’s enjoyment of the area but also to see that the police do not seem to wish to help prevent illegal incursions.

“Please can you also let us know what the next steps are and how long it will be before they are removed.

“Our next work session is on Saturday 3 June and we are due to care for the area near where they are parked up.”

 

Councillor Wares wrote on Facebook: “Although it isn’t in our ward, I was contacted late in the evening last night by ward residents who were there.

“They were distressed and told me they had been intimidated and threatened with violence … one resident on her way back from the allotments had been forced to reverse on to the park and felt trapped and another had her car dragged along the road to clear a way through.

“I was told that the police had been called. Being concerned for their welfare I decided to go to the park. It felt wrong on so many levels just to thank them for their advice and carry on my evening at home.

“After 30 minutes without the police, I called 101 to reinforce the urgency as I felt their presence was necessary to assist the resident in the car who felt she was too frightened to drive across the field.

“After that, members of the traveller families approached the car and talked to the resident.

“Absent the police, I intervened to try to defuse the situation. I was asked what I knew and when I told them of the allegations put to me, I was then subject to verbal abuse.

“Continuing with my polite and professional manner (they knew I was a councillor and I addressed them all as “Sir”) it seems I persuaded them to return to their caravans.

“As they left, they said that if the car and myself didn’t leave, that if the other men from the families came over, the car and myself would look a lot different.

“I took that as an assault where I believed I would be subject to battery. I didn’t leave and remained with the residents.

“The police were called again for me to discover they had cancelled the request. I again demanded an urgent uniformed response that arrived shortly after.

“All the details were passed on and I identified the lead individual that had threatened me.

“Since then I have raised an issue on the police response but I have received confirmation that the TLO (Traveller Liaison Office) are working on the matter, that the police are investigating the incidents and the site is being monitored.

“I have also spoken with some of the residents this morning (Facebook messaging) and am pleased to say they are relatively ok after the ordeal.”

  1. Gerald Wiley Reply

    Why is it that travellers do not have to abide by the same laws as everyone else in the city? What is so special about them? Why are the police so frightened of upsetting them? What is the police commissioner going to do about the situation? Why is it only in Brighton and Hove that we have such problems?

    Perhaps Pete West and Phelim Mc Cafferty, who were both influential in setting the Traveller Commissioning Strategy in 2012 that gave travellers the special treatment they receive, would care to comment?

    Perhaps it is time for the Green inspired strategy to be reviewed?

    For details please see https://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/sites/brighton-hove.gov.uk/files/downloads/travellers/Traveller_Commissioning_Strategy_2012.pdf

    • Chris Reply

      It could be because the police have previously wasted a lot of time and resource trying to do something about the travellers only for them to disappear, have untraceable vehicles, plead poverty (difficult when they’ve got expensive new caravans and cars), plead racism, claim their human rights are being ignored or something similar and, if it gets that far, for a court to hand out a piffling fine and community service within the sentencing guidelines which is just ignored anyway.

      Having said that, it does seem that Brighton lets them get away with just about anything compared to some other parts of the country.

  2. VX Reply

    I have noticed the fact that not once in the article are any of the Travellers (capital T, please) are treated as individuals as any ethnic minority would be identified in an article. Never once do we learn how many individuals spoke to the people in question, who were deacribed not only by gender but in indi idual terms. The way this article is written is typical of all anti-Traveller smear campaigns that run in the media. Travellers are portrayed as “other”, as a ” mob”- there could have been two or thirty- they could have been female, male, children- we never learn- this blatant dehumanisation and scaremingering against one of Britain’s oldest yet least protected ethnic minorities has to stop: it is a witch hunt which depicts Travellers as gangs of subhumans, just like Nazi propaganda in the third Reich. Disgusting persuasive journalism spreading fear and stereotypes.

    • G. Gardener Reply

      Vx have you been for a walk in Wild park when the travellers are there? I am sure that they would invite you in for a cup of char.

    • martin lawrence Reply

      *described ?
      *scaremongering?
      You insist on a capital T yet your comment is strewn with errors and then an example of Godwin’s law seriously devalues your argument and any salient points are lost.
      It was mentioned “other males” AND REFERRING TO THEM AS “SIR” which suggests males to me ????

    • Gary Mc Garry Reply

      it is not scaremongering or smearing my dear… it is a statement of an individual whom was involved in a fracas with person(s) whom were engaging in threatening behaviour. The fact that they, or the involved individuals’ were referred to as ‘travellers’ (generic term for those who live a transient lifestyle)is because the group wehom entered the site illegally are indeed, or in fact Travellers!!!!

      I understand the laws and indeed agreed (Post war) interventions thast the UK (and european) governments were to abide by in provision of places of rest (sites) for those of/from the Romany community and associated others, and low and behold have these agreement svere fully be adhered to, NO! but that doesnt mean that individuals or groups can just run amok and do as they please.. ‘they’ may have freedom to do what they wiosh or feel is their right, but their freedom should never affect or impact on the freedoms of others (ie to enjoy ones home and community, free from state intervention and the negative actions of others!).

      The Police just dont have the man(sorry!) power to deal with this, the ‘travellers’were executing their right to have a safe place to stay, who knows what previous agreements the council, the police, the police commissioner, other associated authorities/agencies as we’ll never know what those whom are in positions of power do?, (apart from inflate their own egos and make deals to fill their own pockets whilst they’re in office!) one thing is for sure, that those whom we vote for NEVER have the voter/people in mind when it comes to decisions, they only have themselves and their kind in mind..

      Leave the travellers well alone, dont involve yourself unless you are going to find a solution, and the simple solution would be for governments, authorities to act responsively (humanistically)and put in place the schemes and initiatives to tackle this and first thing would be to call a truce between fighting parties whom are simply opuit against each other by the controlling forces of government.. an old saying comes to mind.,. ….. a split community is easier to control when they are fighting amongst themselves, stop fighting each other and fight the Power.. and hope for a better form of government if we want a better future…..

      • Gary Mc Garry Reply

        my spelling and grammar are awful, sorry

  3. martin lawrence Reply

    It happened late Friday night , yet the travellers liaison officers are allegedly working on the matter despite finishing for bank holiday weekend Friday afternoon , Do they now operate an out of hours service ?, I for one am glad the elderly resident and councilor are physically unharmed The Police are scared of these situations as been evidenced previously when officers were videoed stood by whilst bunding was being dug out at Wild Park however do we not pay a portion of council tax to the Police Authority ? What does seem strange is someone working on an allotment in the dark

  4. martin lawrence Reply

    Whats not mentioned in this story is that the woman and another present are both admins on sussex traveller watch facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/335439889944338/

    • Man Reply

      Three FB groups in Brighton trying to get justice for the council tax payer

  5. Jo Jo Reply

    So bad

  6. Jo Jo Reply

    So sad

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