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Dozens of Traveller caravan on unlawful sites in Doncaster according to government stats

Traveller site. Stock picture.
Traveller site. Stock picture.

Dozens of Traveller caravans are on unlawful sites in Doncaster, government figures show.

Newly-released data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show in January, the vast majority of the 429 Gypsy, Roma and Traveller caravans in Doncaster were situated on authorised sites.

But 60 caravans were on sites which did not have the required planning permission to set up an encampment.

Of the unauthorised sites, 29 were declared to be not tolerated by local authorities, meaning active efforts were being made to move them on.

Not tolerated sites include those where a planning enforcement notice has been served, or where an injunction has been sought against the encampment.

But Traveller groups say that police forces across the UK have been taking 'draconian measures' to move them on.

Doncaster Council, in partnership with St Leger Homes, manage authorised sites in Thorne, Long Sandall, Sprotbrough, Armthorpe, Moorends and Tickhill.

Jim Davies, from the Traveller Movement, called on the Government to support local authorities in finding more authorised sites for Traveller communities.

He said: "It is clear that the UK has a Gypsy and Traveller population that has as much right to be here as the rest of society and this population is not going to 'go away' with more police powers and draconian measures aimed at moving them on.

"The vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers on sites are on authorised ones. For those that aren't, there are clear and simple solutions to allow the Gypsy way of life as dictated by UN law and to promote harmony between different ethnic groups.

"The government should focus on supporting local authorities to build more authorised sites and stopping places, and to allow Gypsies and Travellers who want sites on their own land equitable access to the planning system."

A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "If travellers are on private land, it is down to the landowner to obtain a court order and in effect evict the people from their land.

"If the travellers are on common land, the police can use section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, which allows the senior police officer attending the scene of an incident involving trespass, in certain circumstances, to direct the trespassers to leave the land and remove their vehicles and property as soon as reasonably practicable.

"Police are often asked to attend to prevent a breach of the peace at the time the results of a court order are presented to those present and then again at the time they are actually required to leave."

Doncaster Council didn't respond when asked to comment.