Agenda item

Clive Jones asked the Leader of the Council the following question:



Will you join me in congratulating WBC staff and the local police on the professional way in which they dealt with recent traveller incursions across the Borough?



Will you join me in congratulating WBC staff and the local police on the professional way in which they dealt with recent traveller incursions across the Borough?



I heartily agree with you and am pleased with the way the Officers have dealt with the traveller incursions.


The WBC team deals with incursions as quickly and efficiently as possible, primarily with the Thames Valley Police but also other stakeholders such as Parish and Town Councils, private landowners and businesses affected by incursions. As you are aware Wokingham Borough Council, as the Chief Constable stated earlier, has introduced an updated policy which takes into account the joint protocol with the Thames Valley Police, a positive step in joint working.


As I would have said in my Executive statement, if I had managed to give it, the Borough has seen quite a few disruptive traveller incursions over the summer. This is very frustrating for residents and the removal and clear up process is expensive and time consuming for the Council. Where the police do not use their S61 powers, Borough Officers are taking an increasingly robust approach to the issue and are now using non-court bailiffs, rather than the courts, to accelerate the process of removal. The non-court bailiffs are more expensive but it is actually quicker and removes nuisance from the residents quicker.


So I am hoping that having used it a couple of times we will get better and better at dealing with traveller incursions. I must say, however, that nobody would particularly mind travellers but for the mess. It is the mess and damage and criminal damage that is the problem.


Supplementary Question

Often police officers put themselves in dangerous situations when dealing with traveller incursions. I actually witnessed it myself in Earley just a few weeks ago. Do you agree with me that the failure of the Government to properly fund the police service (the Chief Constable confirmed tonight that he has lost £100m, which is 25% of his budget) has resulted in manpower shortages that contribute to making it increasingly difficult for the police to deal with traveller incursions in a timely manner?


Supplementary Answer

I also know about that particular incursion as I live just down the road from it. I can assure you that I was straight on the email to the Police and Crime Commissioner to see what could be done about it to support the police. Actually, even at 11pm he did respond to the email. Since then I have brought up the question with Kit Malthouse, who is the new Housing Minister, to see what can be done to actually give the police more powers to do something about incursions.


I think that a lot of it is to do with deterrence rather than physically moving people on. The reason I think the police are reluctant to move people on is that they just move to another place and they have to be moved on again. I think that the important thing with the legislation is to have some deterrent effect so that people don’t arrive in the first place and so do not create criminal damage. So I think that the real issue is deterrence and legislation, not necessarily the number of police.