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Police are refusing to use their powers

Posted on September 29 2014 at 1:10:07

I am getting sick and tired of individuals in authority seemingly misleading the public.

First there was MP Sajid Javid’s public forum, where the frustration in the crowd was obvious because it seemed he simply did not know the law and seemed to make one excuse after another. 

Even our elected Police Commissioner, Bill Longmore, was singing from the same song sheet (the same as our local and district councillors) which caused even more consternation from the crowd.

Now we have Superintendent Kevin Purcell’s correspondence in our own Village magazine (Village Views, September 2014: Police: We did all we could on traveller incursion).

We have said on many occasions that s61, 62 & 77 of The Police and Criminal Justice Act (CJPOA) could have been used more effectively. If we have got it wrong, why has neither the Law, our MP or our local councillors told us so?

In fact, quite the opposite! At the mere mention of the Act things go very quiet indeed.

I remind all parties that we were told from day one by the police and district and county councils that it was nothing to do with them – it was up to the landowner to take out costly legal action. This is clearly not the case.

Supt Purcell states: “The police attended the incursion as soon as it happened, liaising with the local land owners, and parish and district councillors.”

I’m sure Supt Purcell is aware that if the landowner (or anyone on his behalf) asks the travellers to leave (and they refuse) should he then complain to the police, they have the powers under s61 & s62 of CJPOA to remove them.

As we understand it, at no time did the police liaise with the landowner in such a way as to inform him of this – only to inform him that he should take out private court action. 

This is because West Mercia Police Force has a policy of non-eviction on travellers, as explained to us by Insp Sarah Corteen. 

Similarly, when Supt Purcell liaised with the district council, did he inform them that under s77 of CJPOA, the authority only has to be aware that the travellers are camped without the landowner’s permission in order for them to take action? 

It seems not.

The same situation seems to have taken place in Bromsgrove at Stoke Heath. The recreational land there is owned by the parish council. 

It’s our understanding that the council took out legal action to remove the travellers. Why? If the council had asked the travellers to leave, perhaps within a certain time frame and they refuse, a complaint to the police should be enough – again using s61 & s62 of CJPOA.

Why should taxpayers’ money be used to take out court action when laws are already in place but are not being used by West Mercia Police Force because of a “policy”?

Is Superintendent Purcell aware of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Guidance on Unauthorised Encampments?

1.5 It is essential that the police response takes account of the issues of behaviour, whether criminal, anti-social or nuisance, in combination with the impact on the landowner and settled community rather than simply because encampments are present at a specific location.

Police powers to evict people from unauthorised encampments do exist, as provided for by Sections 61 and 62 A-E, Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994, (CJPOA 94).

These powers will be used where behaviour or conduct is considered to be inappropriate, or where the impact of an encampment on others is deemed unacceptable. This position is consistent with all other areas of enforcement within the community.

Do we really need to go over all the incidences in Alvechurch of human defecation on public footpaths, illegal dumping of white goods appliances, individuals being intimidated, along with travellers stepping out in the road in front of oncoming vehicles intimidating drivers?

Not to mention all the nuisances from the encampment that Insp Corteen explained were not “criminal.”  They may not be, but they are still covered in the ACPO Guidelines.

But if these (and many more) are not classed as either criminal, anti-social or nuisance, what is?

Like most, we expect the police to do their sworn duty, and it seems in this case having a “policy” that stops you from doing that, when the Government has given you the tools to do so, and your own guidelines (as shown above) inform you of such, that far from doing “all you could” the police have in fact misled everyone including the landowner and our local and district council.   

I suggest Supt Purcell reconsiders his “policy” and starts using the powers Government gave him in these matters. 

Then we can truly say the police are doing all they can.

Jon Stevenson

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