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Policing Marginal Spaces: Controlling Gypsies and Travellers

NCJ Number
Criminology & Criminal Justice: An International Journal Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 367-389
Zoe James
Date Published
November 2007
23 pages
Through an analysis of empirical research in the southwest of England, this paper outlines the policing of Gypsies and Travellers (a diverse society).
As English government policy has developed to incorporate diversity issues, so Gypsies and Travellers have been included in community policing agendas in recent years. These agendas focus on engaging diverse communities in the process of their own governance in an effort to increase public accountability and confidence in policing. However, this paper outlines the way that Gypsies and Travellers largely interact with policing agencies through enforcement experiences. With extensive powers to evict Gypsies and Travellers from land, and nowhere for Gypsies and Travellers to stop and stay, police and local authorities draw on their powers to remove Gypsies and Travellers from their localities. Hence, the police and other agencies that work with them have not effectively practiced community policing ideas with Gypsies and Travellers, nor can they without some embedded understanding of Gypsy and Traveller culture. As Gypsies and Travellers are drawn within public order legislation, so they are perceived as offenders and their management is carried out within the spectrum of public order policing styles. The police and other agencies overarching aim is to remove Gypsies and Travellers from their locality utilizing a number of tools. However, for now, Gypsies and Travellers continue to live nomadically and deal with their policing experiences in England and Wales and throughout Europe. Unless Gypsies and Travellers are forced to settle and policing agencies can pin down their whereabouts, it seems unlikely that policing will move beyond enforcement and reach the community policing model. Notes, references