Gypsies face purge on illegal camping

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The Independent Online
A NEW criminal offence to stop illegal camping by gypsies and travellers is being planned by the Government to end the nuisance they cause.

The policy proposals by the Department of the Environment, outlined in a consultation paper yesterday, would make it illegal to park a caravan on any land without the landowner's consent, with powers for local authorities to tow away illegally parked caravans. Magistrates would also have powers to seize them.

The changes are not directed at New Age travellers, or hippies, who converge on illegal sites in large numbers - they face separate action under the public order Acts by the Home Office. But such groups could be caught by the proposed legislation as it would amend the 1968 Act to change the definition of gypsies to mean any travellers.

It would also abolish the legal requirement on local authorities to provide gypsy sites. And 100 per cent grants to local authorities for site provision would go.

The Government is prepared for an outcry from travellers but ministers believe the policy will be popular with voters.

Fears of confrontation, page 3

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