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Policing Space: Managing New Travellers in England

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 46 Issue: 3 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 470-485
Zoe James
Date Published
May 2006
16 pages
This study used "spatial theorizing" to examine Great Britain's policing of "New Travellers:" a nomadic community that has existed since the 1970s.
New Travellers have a nomadic lifestyle of constant travel with temporary stays, usually in rural areas inhabited by the middle class and land owners. New Travellers' attempt to find spaces that they can legally inhabit without fear of eviction, such as farms and lanes; however, all land is owned and subject to zoning laws. The police are responsible for enforcing laws that regulate the use of land, so police are involved in evicting New Travellers from land they are illegally occupying. Police make Traveller groups move from a given police jurisdiction to another police jurisdiction where the police in that jurisdiction make the Travellers move to another jurisdiction, thus ensuring continuation of the New Travellers nomadic lifestyle. This study shows that some police forces use their full resources and a show of force to evict New Travellers from land when negotiation does not succeed. Police often use pre-emptive tactics by disrupting communications among Traveller groups that are planning to settle together on an illegal site or set up a music festival. Crime among New Travellers is minimal, and police recognize this; however, police are persistent in raiding New Traveller sites. There has been no effort to resolve the basic conflict between the nomadic lifestyle of the Travellers and the sedentary lifestyle upon which zoning and land-ownership laws are based. This study was based on an analysis of 18 police interviews and 14 interviews with New Travellers in forces/areas throughout England. 52 references