Letter: Children suffer under persecution of travelling families

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article ('A law that threatens to tie down the nomads', 17 February), although well-intentioned, fails to address certain key issues. First of all, it propagates the myth that all nomadic people in this country are gypsies, whereas in fact only a tiny proportion are true Romany gypsies.

The great majority are scrap metal merchants, Irish tinkers and 'tarmaccers', New Age travellers and various others of dubious extraction. This mixed bunch hardly 'pursue a lifestyle rich in culture', and to refer to them as gypsies is an insult to those who are. Real gypsies, virtually always recognisable by their dark complexions, would never behave like most of the itinerants do, for example, leaving rubbish around and, in general, causing havoc wherever they go.

Second, the law has obviously not been 'fairly even-handed' in its treatment of travelling people, gypsies or otherwise. If that were the case, why haven't local authorities that have blatantly ignored the Caravan Sites Act, now 25 years old, been prosecuted? If enough sites had been provided, today's problems would have largely been avoided.

Far from being 'alarmist', claims of ethnic cleansing are borne out historically and with the latest proposed legislation, which, if passed, will only make matters far worse.

Yours sincerely,

IAN CRUICKSHANK

Reading, Berkshire

17 February

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