The Traveller Movement has written an open letter to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel asking that she apologise for comments made during an event where she referred to Travellers as criminal and violent.
The letter has been signed by parliamentarians, academics, NGOs and activists.
First reported in Travellers’ Times on September 22nd, the Home Secretary was speaking at an online event hosted by the Board of Deputies for British Jews. When asked about site allocation for Travellers, the Home Secretary said the following:
"The Home Office's work in this particular area actually refers to some of the criminality that takes place, and that has happened through traveller communities and unauthorised encampments. Now that's very different to gypsy and roma communities. The two are absolutely separate. Where we have seen criminality, violence taking place."
Responding to the comments, the letter points out that Gypsies and Travellers are ethnic groups protected from race discrimination under the Equality Act 2010:
“You have a duty as a public figure to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and encourage good relations between all groups. Your comments not only pit ethnic groups against one another; they also single out an entire ethnic group as criminal and violent. As you will be aware, Gypsies, Roma and Travellers experience some of the highest levels of discrimination, hate and hostility of all ethnic groups.”
The letter calls for a retraction of the comments, as well as a full apology from the Home Secretary to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.
The letter can be read in full here
Commenting on the letter, the Chair of the Traveller Movement Pauline Anderson OBE, said: We are shocked to hear such comments being made by the Home Secretary. She effectively brands a whole ethnic group as violent and criminal. This wouldn’t happen to any other ethnic group. It’s a disgrace.
Also commenting, CEO of the Traveller Movement Yvonne MacNamara said: we find these comments objectionable in the extreme. Gypsies and Travellers already experience very high levels of discrimination and are often reluctant to report hate crimes committed against them. Now we know why!!. These comments are vile. We demand an immediate apology from the Home Secretary.
020 7607 2002
Notes to Editor
* The Traveller Movement (TM) is a national community development policy and voice charity who campaign against discrimination, promote inclusion, participation and community engagement for the Irish Traveller and Gypsy communities in Britain. TM is proud to work in partnership with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities together with service providers and policy makers across the UK to better promote social inclusion and community cohesion.
Visit the Traveller Movement website here: https://travellermovement.org.uk/