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Stephen Metcalfe MP ‘delighted’ with new consultation on the ‘Irish Option’

07 Feb Stephen Metcalfe MP ‘delighted’ with new consultation on the ‘Irish Option’

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon & East Thurrock, today welcomes the launch of a consultation on new police powers to tackle illegal traveller camps.

The Home Office will consult on: increased police powers to move travellers on from private or highway land to authorised land; increasing the period of time from which, once moved, travellers will be unable to return; lowering the number of vehicles needed before police intervention from 6 to 2; and the so-called ‘Irish Option’ of making intentional trespass a criminal offence.

Essex MPs Stephen Metcalfe, Mark Francois and John Baron called on the Government to give the ‘Irish Option’ serious consideration as part of a future review of police powers in a submission to the consultation into unauthorised encampments and a separate letter signed by 59 MPs last year.

On October 9 MPs took part in a general debate on Gypsies and Travellers and local communities in which Stephen Metcalfe seized the opportunity to strongly condemn illegal traveller encampments, speaking from experience of Marsh Farm in Vange.

Stephen Metcalfe said:

“I welcome that Britain is home to a wide variety of cultures including the traveller groups, but crucially the same rules must apply to all members of society equally. This is why I called for the law to be strengthened to enable the police and councils to take swift action and evict illegal encampments.

The current powers available to the police and local authorities to tackle unauthorised encampments are cumbersome and costly. Councils and private landlords have too often paid thousands to correct the environmental damage left behind.

I am therefore delighted at the Home Office announcement to consult on a range of new police powers, including the ‘Irish Option’ of making intentional trespass a criminal offence. This will be a game-changer in the slow process that currently aggrieves my constituents.

I will continue to work with by South Essex colleagues to support this new policy direction to help end the unfairness of illegal traveller sites”.