Ministers ‘failing to address issues on traveller sites’: MSP

Peter Chapman MSP says it is a serious issue
Peter Chapman MSP says it is a serious issue

Ministers are failing to address a clear gulf between Police Scotland procedure and Scottish Government policy on traveller encampments, a North East MSP has claimed.

Scottish Conservative Peter Chapman used a topical question at parliament to highlight confusion at a local level over powers that police have over unauthorised encampments.

Officers in the North East said there is “nothing” within existing legislation that allows for illegal campers to simply be moved on. Instead, Police are falling back on the 150 year-old Trespass (Scotland) Act, which they say is inadequate.

The Scottish Government has insisted, however, that existing laws are sufficient for police and local councils to deal with any unauthorised camps.

Mr Chapman said: “Police officers are telling us they are effectively powerless in the face of illegal camps, and that building halting sites alone won’t solve the problem. It is our elected members who must take the difficult decisions on where to build gypsy-traveller sites, often in the face of strong local opposition.

“There is a serious issue here that needs to be addressed, but the minister appears happy to pass the buck and let others take the flak.”