DROITWICH MP Sir Peter Luff has questioned the powers given to West Mercia Police to handle the recent eviction of travellers from land off Ombersley Way in the town.
24 caravans established a camp on council-owned land near Westacre School earlier in the month with reports of litter and faeces being left on the site.
However, despite praising Wychavon District Council, which managed to legally evict the travellers on June 24, nearly two weeks after their arrival, Sir Peter has questioned the powers of West Mercia Police in how the situation was handled.
He wrote to West Mercia Police, saying: “After sporadic but worrying issues on the Berry Hill Industrial Estate over the past few months, we have now had serious issues with travellers in Ombersley Way and Addeyes Way.
“I would appreciate a statement from West Mercia on the steps you have taken to address the problems caused by these most recent events, and of the powers available to you to control this situation when, in the most recent case, we have had criminal damage and gross public nuisance caused by, among other things, defecation in public places.
“I am sure you share my deep concern about the way law-abiding residents are being exposed to such behaviour – and the local council to such cost - and will also share my determination to do whatever can reasonably to be done to prevent any recurrence.”
Sir Peter’s letter was received by the local Safer Neighbourhoods Inspector. Superintendent Mark Travis, the police commander for South Worcestershire, has responded.
He said: “The Inspector gave a prompt and detailed response outlining police actions with regard to travellers in Ombersley Way and Addeyes Way and has offered to meet Sir Peter to discuss the matter further.
“We share the concerns which have been raised and have assured him we have done our utmost to support the landowner, which is Wychavon District Council in both instances.
“Officers visited both locations on a number of occasions and appropriate advice was given to the travellers. We work hard with colleagues and partners to maximise our effectiveness within the existing legislation while recognising the need to be balanced and proportionate.”
Supt Travis added that the police would continue to investigate any reports of criminal activity or anti-social behaviour and take action against those responsible when offenders were identified.
Sir Peter added: “Sadly the A38 is a road that has been particularly popular with travellers for decades, hence the frequency of the problems we face in Droitwich. The real difficulty is in legislating against such behaviour - when a group of people know how to work their way round the law and are determined to do so, it is very hard to prevent them or to catch them in criminal acts without deploying a huge (and very expensive) level of resource from the police, or unintentionally infringing other people's rights.
“Society does depend on a level of shared responsibility and this is something these travellers manifestly do not have.”