Stop Hate Crime – Gypsies and Travellers
This report contains offensive language. These are examples of hate crime that were expressed over the course of this research. This language has not been censored as it is important to understand the nature of this type of crime as it occurs.
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North Yorkshire is home to many travellers and Gypsies. There are 438 recorded, permanent caravans in the county:
Stereotypes, misconceptions and even media representations produce negative attitudes towards these groups. Although not a ‘race,’ it seems that anti-traveller hatred is most likely to fall into the racial category.
‘We get called ‘pikeys’ and ‘mucky gypos.’’
‘If I go into town, I feel like I have to act differently, so people don’t think I am a traveller.’
Preconceptions about the travelling community mean that there are some ill-feelings from some of those outside this community. One of the support workers explained that she had been mistaken for a traveller herself and received ‘dirty looks’ from passers-by, as well as incidents where road users have not allowed her to pass on a single track road.
Travelling communities tend to ‘keep themselves to themselves,’ so there is not an established relationship with the police. Although in Malton there is an integration scheme that has shown some progress, this is very slow and there is still some uncertainty.
Discussions suggested that there was some negative feeling from a local police officer and travellers now do not go to that individual for support. The travellers have asked that this is not referred to the police. There have also been incidents of being denied healthcare from medical services: appointments made by support workers for travellers would be cancelled with no notice given – others were not receiving the level of care required for their illness. After discussions between health staff and support workers, this was resolved locally.
Traditionally, gypsies and travellers do not have good relationships with the police, so would choose to not report a crime to them. ‘They will either deal with it themselves, or not at all.’ There was a feeling that the police are unable to act on hate crimes because of the lack of information that is available and the frequency of the incidents.
Every year in early June, there is an increase of travellers to North Yorkshire due to the Appleby horse fair in Cumbria. The lack of integration between travellers and locals in some areas is a cause for concern: travellers often stopover in very rural villages and tensions can heighten as a result. There is wariness amongst locals that crime will go up and so police presence is often requested. However, pre-emptive police action might be viewed as discriminatory, assumptive and targeted.