The green spaces in the centre of Lightwater appear to be protected against traveller incursion, following the recent case at Lightwater Recreation Ground.
Protection against further traveller incursions at the Lightwater Recreation Ground behind All Saints’ Church needs to be more substantial than the past and current ones. A simple cordless angle grinders will soon see off the current level of protection. The suggested level of protection, raising bollards, maybe an expensive deterrent, though surely worth it.
The barriers to entry onto the Lightwater Recreation Ground, behind All Saints’ Church Hall, have proved not to be effective to a significant incursion by travellers.
Occupying the car park and a large part of the Recreation Ground it looks likely to be a while until they’re removed. As this is the second incursion on this land, more careful thought should be given to its security. It’s interesting how the traveller caravans are placed to deter entry to a public facility paid for in our local taxes.
In the Surrey Heath Neighbourhood Police Communique Issue 66 Inspector Bob Darkens comments on the, successfully resolved, traveller incursion on the Field of Remembrance [FoR] in Windlesham. The Communique provides extensive details on police powers in relation to traveller incursions.
Sadly to prevent further incursions heavy concrete barriers have been placed in front of the entrance to the FoR car park. Yet another inconvenience to local residents, where the car park, and entrance to Lightwater Recreation Ground and the Briars Community Centre in Lightwater are similarly barriered.
Traveller incursion at Windlesham’s Field of Remembrance
Inspector Bob Darkens has added some detail regarding the use of police powers in relation to the recent unauthorised encampment at the Windlesham Field of Remembrance. As an ex-military man, he was very aware of the iconic status of a site such as the Windlesham Field of Remembrance and the place it holds in the community. In addition, the level of feeling in the community was clear to see.
The presence of the travellers in these circumstances denied the public the use of this community asset as well as the emotional impact it caused. He had to balance the rights of the travellers against the rights of the community. The people involved had been removed from other sites in the locality in accordance with relevant legislation and they had made it clear that they would remain until forced to go – a process which can take some time. This was not a situation he was prepared to accept and it was his opinion that the criteria for utilising s61 powers (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) was reached in these circumstances.
He would like to add that each and every encampment is assessed on its own circumstances and a number of factors do have to be considered.
TRAVELLER INCURSIONS AND THE POLICE
Following the recent incursion by travellers at the Windlesham Field of remembrance, it is opportune for a repeat of the information proved in the summer of 2017 to help the public understand the powers that the police have in such circumstances.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to treat someone less favourably because of a range of protected characteristics, including race, nationality or ethnic or national origins. The following of a nomadic lifestyle is lawful, indeed it is a culture that is recognised and protected through legislation. Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers have been granted protection under the previous Race Relations Acts. The Public Sector Equality Duty applies to the police and places a duty on constabularies to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups.
The recent traveller incursion onto the Lightwater Recreation Ground behind All Saints’ Church, though now over, continues to have an effect.
That effect is that both the small public car park by the Lightwater Recreation Ground, and that in front of the Briars Community Centre in Lightwater have both now been closed with barriers. A large tree log for the Briars Centre and heavy concrete structures for the recreation Ground.
Closing both car parks protects them from traveller incursions onto the playing fields. In doing this the local councils, parish and borough, are inconveniencing local residents.
An alternative solution is required, one that protects the playing fields from traveller incursion, yet allows both car parks to be used. I guess I’ll have to follow up and find out what the councils are planning about re-opening the car parks.
the Traveller incursion onto the Lightwater Playing Field, behind All Saints’Church in Lightwater is over. The Traveller’s have moved on, but have left rubbish behind, as can be seen in the photos. There’s not as much rubbish as I’d anticipated, though I didn’t check all the field boundaries.
There’s a new lock on the gate to the field. The lock is insubstantial, with an open hasp, and so I’d recommend protection around the lock. Be interesting to know when the barrier to the Briars Community Centre is considered safe to remove.
Today at 4.0 pm the encampment of travellers on Lightwater Playing Field, behind All Saints’ Church, is continuing, with additional travellers having arrived since Monday.
Protection from incursion onto Briar Avenue Playing Field, adjoining the Briars Community Centre in Lightwater, is a barrier added to the entrance. A probable necessary move, though one that restricts resident access to the Community Centre car park.
Lightwater Playing Field, behind All Saint’s Church in Lightwater has an incursion of Travellers. Next, I’ll post Surrey Chief Constable’s letter about traveller incursions in Surrey.
Message from David Howie (Surrey Police, Community Engagement Volunteer, Surrey Heath)
Following a recent incursion by travellers at the Arena Leisure Centre and subsequently at the London Road Recreation Ground (both sites owned by Surrey Heath Borough Council), it is opportune for a summary to be provided to help the public understand the powers that the police have in such circumstances.
Trespasses, unauthorised incursions and encampments on both publicly and privately owned land are a problem. Community tensions can result and there is frequently a resultant cost to the public or private purse. Sites of such incidents rarely provide adequate facilities and as such provide poor living conditions and are frequently a substantial concern and inconvenience to the owners and usual users of such land.
It is important to understand that the law confers legal rights on Gypsies and the Travelling Community with Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers being recognised ethnic groups for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010. Legislation and nationally mandated practise also places responsibilities on Councils with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights underpinning the right to respect for a private and family life. It is necessary to balance the Human Rights of the travellers against the needs of the wider community. As a result, when managing such incidents on Council land, officials are obliged to establish the welfare situation of the encampment and to take appropriate steps before proceeding with any enforcement action. Every encampment and incursion is therefore dealt with on a case by case basis and careful consideration is given to whether enforcement action is justified, necessary and proportionate.
It needs to be emphasised that the act of trespass itself is not a criminal offence – it is a civil one. This means that the police are unable to take immediate enforcement action if trespass occurs or make the Travellers move on if no criminal offence has been committed. Except in the circumstances indicated below, it is the responsibility of the landowner to obtain a ‘direction to leave’ order from a magistrates’ court which can then be served on the trespassers. They will then have a specified period of time to move off before they are committing an offence. In the case of the incursion at the Arena Leisure Centre, the Council applied for a court order and served it successfully but the travellers merely moved to the neighbouring London Road Recreation Ground.