“Abuse, threaten or discriminate against travellers and you’re a racist”, top UK police official says…
To many people, it goes without saying that any kind of prejudice shown towards travelling communities should be considered as ‘racist’.
Unfortunately though, and for a number of different reasons, there is still a distinct difference between the way this behaviour is viewed in comparison with similar behaviours towards other ethnic or religious groups and communities.
The Traveller/Gypsy community have long been subjected to a range of different types of abuse, from the verbal, right through to criminal damage and even actual physical attacks.
Now, no one is naive enough to suggest that the travellers themselves are never the instigating party, or that they are always totally free from guilt, but two wrongs don’t make a right and racism is never justifiable.
So why is it that these attitudes persist?
The stereotypical depiction of a traveller community, often cast as a group of angry young men with a dozen or so women and children in tow, is often far removed from the members of the community that Court Enforcement Specialists deal with on a daily basis.
Don’t get us wrong, there have been on occasions where travellers fitting this description have been found to be illegally trespassing, damaging property and leaving a great big mess in their wake...
...but it isn’t always like that we find the majority of the Traveller community are very respectful towards the Land owners and clean up after they leave as they pass through.
We often speak to families, just like yours, only living in slightly different circumstances and under the norms of a different culture.
The Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner, Keith Hunter, who has spoken out about this, had fierce words for anyone who might disagree with him, claiming that the people who shout the loudest about travelling communities, are the people who lack the courage or conviction to do anything about it.
He also said that giving leniency to any type of prejudice sets a dangerous precedent, as it creates an environment where more hateful language is allowed to percolate through society.
He’s got a point...
His words are backed up as well, by his clear support for the establishment of legal sites for travellers, something which could provide this often-misunderstood community with an opportunity to take their place in the cities and towns that they choose to bring their families into.
The full force of the law should be felt by anyone who chooses to act with discrimination against travellers, in Mr Hunter’s opinion.
We also know however, that for many of our clients, travelling communities have presented real problems in the past.
To seek action against them is certainly not racist, at all as it can be dealt with in a Civil manner.
Mr Hunter’s point of view is valid, and it is refreshing to hear a prominent voice stand up for the travelling community, but we have to be careful to make sure that we aren’t branding law abiding citizens as ‘racist’, simply for exercising their legal rights.
At Court Enforcement Specialists, we believe that every member of society should be treated equally, no matter their heritage, race or culture.
Something to think about.
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