Letter: Children suffer under persecution of travelling families

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Sir: Your report 'Travelling families fear end of the road is approaching' and leading article (17 February) on gypsies and travellers is a welcome step in opening up the debate about the proposed legislation making its way through the Commons.

In Save the Children's view, this aspect of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill has extremely damaging implications for gypsy and traveller children. It conflicts with the UK government's obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and does nothing to help local authorities to meet their responsibilities under the Children Act.

The shortage of gypsy site provision can only worsen if the duty on local authorities to provide sites is repealed - thereby increasing the likelihood of unauthorised camping. As you indicated, the prospects for those families who have no place on an authorised site looks bleak.

Children will face frequent enforced moves, insecurity and trauma. The fear of losing a home will mean stress for every family member as the powers of local authorities and police to move families on from unauthorised sites are increased. Apart from the emotional and physical health risks, regular eviction can deprive children of access to education and other essential services available as of right to the settled

community.

Save the Children believes that gypsy and traveller children and families deserve fair treatment. We hope that MPs will use later debates on the Bill to think again.

Yours,

MICHAEL TAYLOR

Director

UK and European Programmes

Save the Children

London, SE5

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