Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson hits out at police response to travellers

Travellers in grass area close to Pyhill in North Bretton EMN-150615-225943009
Travellers in grass area close to Pyhill in North Bretton EMN-150615-225943009
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Peterborough’s MP has accused Cambridgeshire police of letting residents down over their response to travellers moving onto land in the city.

Stewart Jackson says he will speak to Home Secretary Theresa May after being left “exasperated and disappointed” by a “lame response” from Peterborough’s police chief Tony Ixer over the issue.

The travellers had left the Pastures in Werrington by Monday having previously moved on to land in Pyhill, Bretton.

Their presence in Bretton caused the Bretton Water Park to be shut for a week. Human waste was also found in the grass after they had departed.

Mr Jackson emailed Supt Ixer to say he had received complaints from constituents about the police not moving the travellers on.

The head of Peterborough police said the force had powers to evict the travellers under Sections 61 and 62 A-E of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994. But he added: “There is no evidence of persistent unacceptable behaviour, including individual criminal activity; there is no significant disruption to the life of the surrounding community, and no serious breaches of the peace or disorder caused by the encampment.

“Even if we were to remove the vehicles and people it is likely the problem would simply be displaced to somewhere else within Peterborough, possibly somewhere which causes more disruption than their current site.

“I am fully aware of the fact that there is a lack of pitches on authorised sites across the country, not just here in Peterborough, making it difficult or even impossible for travellers to avoid setting up unauthorised pitches.”

He added: “This national issue will not be resolved simply by police exercising powers... or by blaming police for the problem when they do not exercise these powers. The solution to this chronic problem requires leadership and resolve from local politicians and from government.”

Supt Ixer said the police had monitored the travellers on site and made one arrest.

Mr Jackson told the PT: “Like me, residents in Werrington and Peterborough will be exasperated and disappointed at this lame response. Frankly, Cambridgeshire police are letting people down.

“Last year, we were promised prompt police action after the city council rightly put in place the provision of Emergency Stopping Places, but sadly the police have failed to act and are more interested in making excuses despite having adequate legal powers to move these travellers on in a timely fashion.”

“I will be taking the matter up directly with the Police and Crime Commissioner and the new Chief Constable as well as the Home Secretary.”

Supt Ixer said: “I’m glad Stewart acknowledges my request for leadership and resolve on this matter and it is good to hear he will take this forward.

“Hopefully we will be able to see some progress. There needs to be a long-term stategic answer to this national problem.”