Letters: Straw's `travellers'

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The Independent Culture
Straw's `travellers'

Sir: In cutting through the self-indulgent, romantic illusions about a certain section of the Travellers' community, Jack Straw is speaking up for the thousands of local residents, councils, police and business people who are faced with the loathsome and dangerous task of dealing with them.

He correctly identifies the groups who "masquerade" as normal itinerants, but in reality are freebooters and freeloaders, who intimidate firms by using their reception areas as latrines and car parks as scrap yards and rubbish dumps. They abuse every public facility. They intimidate even the police, who cannot easily put together the force necessary to shift gangs up to 40 strong who have no compunction in using violence. I have spoken to industrialists threatened with arson attacks if they do not supply water to trespassers camped outside their factories. I know of factories that have had to close temporarily so that the employees do not have to walk through human faeces to get to work.

Jack Straw is talking about the perpetrators of these incessant attacks - not about Travellers as a whole. It is about time commentators visited these "encampments" and saw the reality, rather than assuming that the Home Secretary made a species of racist attack. He did not.

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