- 31 Jan 2020
Date received: 4 Jan 2020
Date responded: 30 Jan 2020
The home office consultation on expanding police powers regarding treatment of travellers (https://www.homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/I1EI5/).
1. Whether this expansion of police powers would apply in Scotland?
2. Whether the Scottish government supports this expansion of powers?
3. Given the Scottish government's goals for equality and inclusion for traveller communities, particularly educational attainment for traveller children, it sees severe deleterious effects that could result from this legislation?
4. Whether the wording of these questions is compatible with current equalities legislation in Scotland, as it appears to me to be constructed in a deliberately obfuscatory fashion targeted to exclude the very people such a consultation should be seeking to engage?
This consultation is being conducted by the Police Powers Unit of the Home Office. Enquiries regarding the consultation should therefore be directed to them via email UnauthorisedEncampentsConsultation@homeoffice.co.uk or at the following address:
Police Powers Unit
6th Floor, Fry Building
2 Marsham Street
I note your concerns regarding the consultation, and in specific your questions directed at the Scottish Government.
Taking these questions in turn:
1. As noted in the executive summary of the consultation document, the proposed measures would “criminalise the act of trespassing when setting up an unauthorised encampment in England and Wales”. These measures would not therefore extend to Scotland.
2. Any extension of police powers in England and Wales is a matter for the Home Office. That notwithstanding, Scottish Ministers have made clear their opposition to the UK Government’s proposals which effectively criminalise the act of travelling.
3. The Scottish Government values the contribution of Gypsy/Traveller communities make to our diverse history, culture and traditions. In ‘Improving the Lives of Scotland’s Gypsy/Travellers 2019-2021’ which we published in October 2019, we explicitly recognise the right to travel, and we are taking steps to map and where possible reopen traditional stopping places. We are also working closely with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to test out ‘negotiated stopping’ for families on the move, as a way of facilitating their right to travel. Scottish Ministers believe that the proposals currently out for consultation are likely to undermine efforts to improve outcomes of Gypsy/Travellers across the board, for example in relation to health or education.
4. The Scottish Government recognises that our Gypsy/Traveller communities have in the past been excluded from many aspects of public life and have too often not been involved in decisions that affect their lives. ‘Improving the Lives of Scotland’s Gypsy/Travellers’ was developed with the active involvement of the Gypsy/Traveller community and we have provided funding to support their involvement in delivering the actions. We have a strong commitment to inclusive communication, and to working in ways that ensure that communities affected by our legislation and policy have every opportunity to contribute their views.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House