Surrey urgently needs transit sites for travellers, says police and crime commissioner

Surrey urgently needs transit sites for travellers, says police and crime commissioner

Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro has called for transit sites for travellers to be introduced to the county to help reduce the impact of unauthorised encampments.

The sites, of which there are none in Surrey , provide temporary stopping places for travellers and have seen success in other parts of the country.

Mr Munro began by saying: “This summer has so far seen unauthorised encampments at a number of locations across Surrey which has inevitably caused some disruption and concern to local communities and increased the strain on police and local authority resources.”

Travellers in Surrey

These sites have been seen in almost all of Surrey’s districts this year.

Mole Valley was hit with a number of unauthorised encampments including in Leatherhead and Dorking , with travellers apparently saying they had arrived ahead of the Espom Derby.

Godstone Green was occupied during the school holidays when an encampment settled there for three weeks.

David Munro standing opposite the unauthorised traveller encampment in Stoke Park, Guildford

Similar unauthorised camps were set up in Guildford , Horley , Redhill , Walton and Cobham .

The PCC has been in regular dialogue in the last few weeks with Surrey Police and the various local councils who have been dealing with encampments.

Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, David Munro

Use of transit sites providing temporary stopping places with proper facilities have proved successful in other areas of the country in dealing with the problem.

Mr Munro continued: “I know the police and local councils have been working hard to take the appropriate action where necessary but the key issue here is the lack of suitable transit sites for GRT communities to access.

“There are currently no transit sites at all in Surrey and we are increasingly seeing traveller groups setting up unauthorised encampments in the county.

Travellers at Stoke Park on Wednesday, June 13

“They are often served with orders by the police or local authority and then move on to another location nearby where the process begins again.

“This needs to change and I will be redoubling my efforts at both a local and national level to push for the introduction of transit sites in Surrey.”

The PCC believes the introduction of the transit sites will not be a complete solution but will help provide a balance between settled and traveller communities.

A view of Godstone Green with the travellers
Travellers on Godstone Green

He said: “They will also give the police extra powers to direct those in unauthorised encampments to a designated place.

“What we must not allow is any heightened tensions created by unauthorised encampments to be used as an excuse for intolerance, discrimination or hate crime towards the GRT community.”

Travellers in Waterside Drive, Walton on Wednesday May 23

Mr Munro said he met last year with various borough council leaders and wrote to the chair of the Surrey Leaders Group regarding transit sites but is frustrated by the lack of progress.

He is now writing to all MPs and council leaders in Surrey to ask for their support in the urgent provision of sites in the county.

Travellers on Forty Foot Recreation Ground in Leatherhead

The PCC has called for the shortage of transit sites and lack of accommodation provision for travellers to be urgently addressed.

He did this in a joint response to a Government consultation.

The joint response has been sent on behalf of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).

It gives views on issues such as police powers, community relations and working with local authorities.

Mr Munro is the APCC national lead for Equalities, Diversity and Human Rights which includes Gypsies, Roma and Travellers (GRT).

He said: “As the national APCC lead for EDHR issues, I am committed to helping challenge misconceptions around the GRT community and seeking a longer-term solution that will benefit all communities.”

Article courtesy of Get Surrey