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Travellers off Longmead Road 21Jun17 LR

 

Following the RA letter to Dominic Raab MP, and his reply on travellers, the Police and Crime Commissioner's Office have responded with the letter below.

 

Dear Mr Cooke,


Your email was passed to our Office from Mr Raab's Office, and the Police and Crime Commissioner has requested I reply to you. Below is a press release the Commissioner issued following the tweets made by ElmbridgeBeat.


 "The statements made on 8 August on social media by Elmbridge Police on the latest unauthorised encampments were an honest attempt to explain that the police deal with all sections of the community, settled and travelling, fairly and impartially. I support them in this and hope they continue to engage with their residents in this way in future, even though they will sometimes not be able to please everyone."


 "I believe however that those particular tweets did not sufficiently emphasise the need to deal with criminality firmly from wherever it originates, and could have given the wrong impression that Surrey Police dealt with alleged crimes associated with unauthorised encampments more leniently. That's certainly the view taken by a number of Surrey residents who have contacted me and the force and I can understand why they think so. I had already raised with senior officers in the force the effect that these tweets could (and did) have, and asked them to ensure that future communications were more carefully worded.


 "I believe that Surrey Police, in very difficult and sometimes tense situations, have generally acted reasonably and properly in controlling criminality where there is the evidence available, have worked effectively with local councils and other landowners to use their legal powers to evict unauthorised encampments and are making genuine, and in the main, successful efforts to engage with both settled and travelling communities in the area. They deserve all our support in this challenging task. I will continue to monitor the situation and pass on residents' views to the Chief Constable and his senior officers."


 "The events of the last few weeks have demonstrated yet again that the issue of unauthorised encampments has implications far outside policing: the urgent need for transit camps, better intelligence on traveller movements and a renewed attempt to engage with travellers, the large majority of which are law-abiding, still require addressing despite some progress in the last few months, and will remain one of my priorities."


 The PCC has spoken with senior police colleagues who are reviewing all alleged crimes that have been reported associated with the encampments, with assurances from Assistant Police Chief Constable Nev Kemp that the force will target any groups involved with criminality, no matter how minor those offences may be and as persistent as they would with any individual or group, regardless of their background.


 PCC Munro added: "I fully understand that this is potentially damaging the trust and confidence of the police in those affected, however I have sought further assurances that the force will be as proactive as possible in dealing with criminality and anti-social behaviour."


 With regard to the points you raise about a loss in public confidence in Surrey Police if members of the travelling community are, seemingly, allowed to "get away with it", the Commissioner has raised these concerns with senior officers within Surrey Police and sought reassurance that allegations of criminality committed by members of the travelling community are investigated. This assurance has been given, however, the police are often frustrated in its efforts to tackle them due to a lack of evidence, be it CCTV or witnesses. Consequently, it is very important that any criminality is reported to the police so that it can be logged and actioned accordingly.


 I appreciate that what I've said above does not really address the concerns you have raised, for which I apologise. All I can say is that we recognise this is a very serious issue and we challenge the Force, and partners, on it daily. Moving forward, the Commissioner is attending meetings with local residents across Surrey to discuss these issues, along with representatives from the police and the local council, which will hopefully address the more localised concerns here. Beyond that, the Commissioner continues to put pressure on the local councils and government to make transit sites available, which will give both police and councils greater powers when it comes to preventing and moving on unauthorised encampments, and he continues to scrutinise the performance of Surrey Police in how it handles such encampments also.


 Thank you,


 Sam


Sam Meyer
Complaints and Diversity Policy Lead
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner