by Allison Hulmes
A year on from the Police Act, Allison Hulmes offers her perspective on the current situation faced by Gypsy, Romani and Traveller communities: empty rhetoric from the Welsh Government and hatred kindled by Tory politicians; and the deeper historical and cultural context to this injustice.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act (Police Act) received Royal Assent on the 28th of April 2022 and most provisions of the legislation came into force on the 28th of June of that year. The Police Act introduced into Wales and England domestic legislation some of the most draconian and repressive enforcement powers in recent times. Part Four of the Police Act – the section which introduced the new criminal offence of ‘trespass with the intent to reside’ – impacts most directly ethnic Gypsies and Travellers who are nomadic for work, family events (including funerals, christenings and weddings) or cultural reasons (horse fairs). It also impacts deeply on the psyche of all ethnic Gypsies and Travellers who understand travelling as an essential part of ethnic identity. Any curtailment upon the ability of Gypsies and Travellers to travel is perceived as state violence and attempts at forced assimilation, a process which began almost immediately after our ancestors first landed on these shores. The determination of the state to control Gypsies was so powerful that legislation was passed to ensure this happened. The Egyptian Acts of 1530 and 1554 set in motion the full weight of the state to either force assimilation, expel from these lands and by 1554, if Gypsies didn’t leave or settle in one place the penalty was death. The language of ‘othering’ and stereotyping was given shape and form in the UK through the respective Egyptian Acts using such language as follows:Sign in to read more