Traveller encampment which was a ‘living nightmare’ for Ortons residents moved on by police

A group of travellers in Orton Goldhay have packed up and moved on after action was taken by police.

Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 11:07 pm

Neighbourhood police yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) served a Section 61 notice which can only be used in situations of serious crime or public disorder not capable of being addressed by normal criminal legislation.

A number of allegations had been made to police after the unauthorised encampment with at least a dozen caravans was set up on a field in Clayton, with locals claiming it was a “living nightmare” and that they were at their “wits end”.

The group of travellers was “largely the same” as the ones who left nearby Beckingham last Friday night, according to the city council. Their presence in a park also led to increased police patrols after complaints were made.

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The bollards which were installed at Beckingham in Orton Goldhay after travellers left the park

Speaking before the Section 61 notice was served, city councillor Julie Howell said people living in the area were “distressed” and that officers needed to be more visible.

Police said they had received calls about rowdy/nuisance behaviour, two allegations of violence involving children and one allegation of inappropriate behaviour involving children, which all related to individuals linked to the encampment.

Commenting before the Section 61 notice was served, a spokeswoman said: “We are increasing patrols in the area and working with our partner agencies to reassure the community.

“We will look into each alleged crime on an individual basis.”

The notice was served a few hours later, with police confirming last night that the travellers had moved on.

Cllr Howell, Green Party member for Orton Waterville, said before the notice was served: “I’m receiving messages daily from residents who are in a great deal of distress. If the police are increasing patrols they need to be visible and their officers need to knock on residents’ doors, listen to them and keep them informed about what’s happening.

“Without this, the rumour mill springs into action which inevitably leads to more worry and more stress.

“The police have legal powers that the council does not and I believe what residents want most is for the police to use those powers.”

Last week residents dug a trench at the site entrance in Beckingham to prevent further encampments, although it was later filled in by the council with bollards being installed.