A Gypsy Council investigation using Freedom of Information laws into evictions of unauthorised camps by Croydon Borough Council has raised concerns at the United Nations after the Council was forced to reveal that it had recorded 130 camps and that “most” had been evicted.
Joseph G Jones, from the Gypsy Council Thames Valley branch, launched the Freedom of Information request to Croydon Council in a bid to find evidence to support a Traveller site planning application for a family applying for permission to live on their own land after facing countless evictions from unauthorised camps in the borough.
The Council refused to answer part of the request relating the family but was forced to reveal the total number of camps in their area - 130 - in 18 months.
The response from the council stated:
“There have been 130 illegal encampments reported to Croydon Council in the last 18 months. Since May 2014, we have recorded these 130 different encampments in Croydon at approximately 50 different locations.”
Speaking to The Travellers’ Times, Joseph G Jones said: “It speaks to the fact that there is a substantial unmet need for Gypsy sites in Croydon.”
He added that most of the camps where the same few groups being evicted again and again and that had no authorised place to put their caravans.
“It seems that the eviction of Romani Gypsies and Travellers is now a matter of course in Croydon, and any consideration of the Human Rights of the persons being evicted - if considered at all - is little more than a tick box exercise.”
“Forced evictions are an abuse of Human Rights as we all know, and as such I am (informing) the Council of Europe and the United Nations.”
The United Nations – which intervened with the Government and Basildon Council during the Dale Farm eviction – replied to the Gypsy Council calling the news “worrying” and said that it would be raising the matter with the authorities.
The Gypsy Council also informed the Bishop of Croydon – also Chair of the Croydon Opportunity and Fairness Commission but received no reply - so have escalated the matter to the Church of England legal team.