Police Chief backs Gypsy/Traveller youth justice reform

8 November 2016

Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick has written to the Lord Chancellor Liz Truss, urging her to support amendments to introduce ethnic monitoring in the youth criminal justice system for Gypsy and Traveller children.

In her letter to Ms Truss, DCC McCormick said “How ethnicity is measured matters. By recording ethnicity we can use that information to see where and why inequalities are occurring. I believe that ethnic monitoring by all public services works best when it builds on the Census data, which remains the bedrock of all statistical information.”

The Deputy Chief Constable for Cheshire Constabulary made the point that the absence of data is a major barrier in addressing and understanding the needs of Gypsy and Traveller communities.

“It is my firm belief that the lack of robust and reliable data on the Gypsy and Traveller population is a major barrier to developing a coherent understanding of these communities and their social, economic, education and welfare needs. Updating the ethnicity monitoring systems in youth justice to include Gypsies and Irish Travellers would be an integral step in helping us to address the disproportionate number of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children in both Secure Training Centres and Youth Offender Institutions. I hope you and your Department are able to support the amendments.”

The National Police Chiefs' Council lead for ‘Gypsy Roma Traveller issues’ welcome intervention comes at a crucial time, with the amendments set to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday 9 November.

As the Travellers’ Times revealed two weeks ago, the amendments have now received support from both the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party. The Irish Chaplaincy and Traveller Movement, who are leading the campaign on the amendments, remain hopeful that DCC McCormick’s intervention will put pressure on the Government to react positively to the amendments.

The amendments, if they are passed, will update the ethnicity recording systems across the entire youth justice system in line with the 2011 Census ethnicity categories known as ‘18+1’ and therefore include “Gypsy or Irish Traveller”.

You can download the Traveller Movement’s full briefing for Members of the House of Lords here.