Dale Farm Solidarity – WELCOME PACK
Some upfront stuff ………………………..p2
Political and legal context………………..p3
Preparing for the eviction………………..p4
Phone a friend……………………………...p5
Site stuff and stuff to bring………………p6
Gypsy & Traveller history………………...p7
Legal info and bust card………………….p11
It’s great you’re here! Dale Farm residents have done everything they can to find a peaceful resolution to avoid the brutal forced eviction from their homes, and of hundreds of residents, including the elderly, sick, and children. Now that eviction notices have been issued and the end of this notice period looms heavy (families face the threat of bull-dozers any time from midnight on 31st August), Dale Farm residents are calling for outside supporters to come to Dale Farm and to stay at „Camp Constant‟ to stand with the community and oppose the threatened eviction.
The Dale Farm Solidarity campaign is helping to facilitate activists' responses to the appeal for support from residents facing eviction from Dale Farm. A few of us who have been coming to Dale Farm over the last several weeks and years have put this together after chatting amongst ourselves and with residents. It is not definitive, just some basic background and information that might be useful, especially for new people coming onto the site. Please feedback if you think there‟s anything here that could be improved.
Dale Farm is a private residential site, owned by the residents of Dale Farm, and it is currently the largest Traveller community of its kind in Britain. What follows is intended to give you some basic information about the current situation at Dale Farm, about Traveller culture, and about how things are currently set up at the Dale Farm Solidarity base, „Camp Constant‟, which has been set up within the boundaries of the threatened Dale Farm community.
As a solidarity movement we’re guided by Dale Farm residents; this is their site; these are their homes, and this is a really traumatic time for families facing eviction. We‟re here because residents have said that they want us here. Remembering the centuries of persecution Gypsies/Travellers/Roma have faced from the settled community (sadly that's us), in Britain since the 1500s, it's crucial we act with real sensitivity and take our lead from the residents here. If the worst happens, we can go back to our comfortable homes. Residents at Dale Farm face eviction from their homes and days and nights of being hounded from place to place. We need to be considerate and sensitive to this in all our actions. We need above all else to be listening and responding to the residents at all times.
Many of us are newcomers to the site and unfamiliar to the residents. Residents here have made a huge effort to make us feel welcome here. But, we all need to be responsible for talking, checking, listening, and making sure what we are doing is OK with residents and that if anything is not, that this is fed back to others, addressed, and sorted out in a good way. Hopefully the information here will help this process.
Dale Farm Solidarity, working with many others is arranging training for human rights monitors, legal and arrestee support, action training, media and outreach. If you want to get involved in any of these areas of support work, speak to people – your help will be welcome.
See the Dale Farm Solidarity website for more information: http://dalefarm.wordpress.com/
Some upfront stuff:
Please respect cultural differences. Supporters and residents often come from very different cultural backgrounds. Please try to be aware of the context you're in, and respectful of each other's ways: from dress, to religion, to attitudes to drugs, to interactions between sexes, to ways of organsing. A typical activist meeting might make some residents uncomfortable; people can find activist hand signals perplexing. Our experiences of eviction and police might also be very different. Locking yourself to a gate might seem natural to some, but a Traveller who's gone through a few brutal evictions might not trust the bailiffs to be so gentle. Try to find routes towards genuine communication – a bit of careful listening and empathy can go a long way…!
- If you’re a man don’t go on your own up to a caravan of women – it isn‟t culturally appropriate and could easily cause distress to women who are home alone and/or to their families thinking unknown people/newcomers on site might do this.
- The Dale Farm community is a strongly religious community. Many of the residents are devoutly Catholic. There are also a small number of New Age Christians on site. Supporters coming on to the site need to be sensitive and respectful; residents uphold
strong moral codes associated with their religious faiths and with their own cultural heritage and local community practices. If in doubt ask residents for guidance, and certainly don‟t assume, because residents are being friendly and welcoming to supporters, that anything goes.
- There are a lot of different strands involved in trying to stop the eviction at Dale Farm: lengthy on-going legal processes; negotiations between residents, members of the Gypsy Council and different parts of the council and the police; as well as Dale Farm solidarity and resistance efforts. Different people are involved in different aspects of this process and have different ideas about how this will or should work out. This is sometimes tricky, even though we all want the same thing, our tactics may vary. Our integrity comes from being guided by the residents, but their opinion is not uniform. Keep talking. Don‟t be daunted. Above all the residents come first. We all want an eviction at Dale Farm to be avoided; we all want the Dale Farm Traveller community to be granted permission to live in peace at Dale Farm.
- Look out for the kids on site. The families are used to knowing their children can move around freely on site, safe among a community they know and can trust. With so many outsiders and newcomers on site, some residents are feeling anxious about their children‟s safety. Be aware of these concerns – always look out for the safety of the children here, if you‟re worried find parents or grandparents and let them know.
- Camp Constant is a DIY site! If you see stuff that needs doing, do it! But do ask residents and you can also chat with the welcome team if you want to let people know what you‟re doing or check with others on site that it‟s an alright thing to do. The „Welcome team‟ should be able to relay messages and act as a central information point. If you want to help with this, please do volunteer – we will need your help.
- If there’s stuff going on that‟s bothering you, don‟t ignore it, get support if you need it, and keep others informed.
Political and legal context
- Dale Farm is the UK’s largest Traveller community, consisting of nearly a hundred plots and at its peak, over a thousand residents of Irish Traveller and English Gypsy heritage. Basildon Council has voted to spend more than £18 million evicting some 90 families (about 500 people, many of them children) from the 52 plots of land at Dale Farm that do not have planning permission, making these people homeless. Instead of dedicating resources to the improving the life circumstances of this minority population, millions of pounds of taxpayers‟ money is being spent to evict Travellers from their own land.
- The council has issued eviction notices, which threaten to forcibly evict Dale Farm residents from their homes any time from midnight on 31st August, 2011. Forced evictions are brutal: homes are bull-dozed, specialist „Traveller and Gypsy‟ bailiffs Constant & Co. have been offered the contract, and are notorious for their physical disregard and abuse of Travellers, including children, during past evictions.
- The council has a duty to offer residents alternative culturally appropriate sites to live as a Traveller community. They have not done so, and there is a chronic lack of Traveller pitches in Basildon. Without alternative sites, the many children at Dale Farm will lose their places at local schools, and their education will be broken, and frail and chronically sick elderly residents will lose access to vital health care. On the last day of
term this year, teachers at Cray‟s Hill school, attended by many Dale Farm children, broke down in tears as they said goodbye to the Traveller children from their school. Elderly residents, some with very serious conditions are frightened that an eviction will kill them; many residents have stress-related disorders, heart conditions, and report difficulty sleeping.
- Planning permission is not easily available to Traveller communities anywhere. It is almost impossible for Travellers to find a place to live in safety without the constant threat of eviction. According to the Commission for Racial Equality, more than 90% of Traveller planning applications are initially rejected. This compares to less than 20% of rejected applications for everybody else. The law is not equally applied. Gypsies and Travellers in the UK are trapped in a web of overlapping, systemic failures to respect their customs and preferences. This is compounded by racism - a 2004 MORI poll revealed that one third of the public admit to being personally prejudiced against Gypsies and Travellers - and the legacy of years of exclusion.
- The council’s argument for evicting residents from the land they own at Dale Farm is that the site is officially registered as greenbelt land. However, this is a cynically used argument. Before the Travellers bought Dale Farm, it was being run as a concreted brownfield site and part of it was a legally-recognised scrap yard. The residents cleaned up the scrap yard and turned it into a home for their families.
- The council claims that this eviction is about upholding the law and restoring the greenbelt, but Tory council members and the local MP John Barron (Tory), appear to be acting on the prejudices of a number of hostile, outspoken, local residents. The cynical use of the greenbelt argument is exposed when other planning permission cases involving similar greenbelt land are explored. For instance, Basildon council has been willing to use their discretion to override the greenbelt status of a similar partially concreted „greenbelt‟ site, the „Barleylands Depot‟, to permit development (a recycling plant). They are even selling of playing fields to pay for the eviction. There is much land in Basildon, including greenbelt land, which is earmarked for development, including large „affordable housing‟ projects. Yet at time when affordable housing is needed all over the country, the council seeks to make hundreds of Travellers, living on a highly appropriate site, in very modest, affordable accommodation, homeless. Instead of spending money on community development and services during a time of cuts, national unease, and recession, the council has set aside a third of its budget to evict Dale Farm.
- In August 2011 the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik appealed to the UK government to cease the evictions at Dale Farm, warning the government that without appropriate alternative sites, the eviction breaches international Human Rights legislation to which the UK government is committed.
- Also in August, 2011, Amnesty International launched a call out to its massive international membership imploring campaigners to condemn forced evictions at Dale Farm if these are instigated without alternative provisions being made available to families.
Preparing for the eviction
We hope it never comes to this, but in the event that they attempt to evict Dale Farm we will be there. Residents are calling on people to act as human rights monitors, and some of us will be engaging in civil disobedience to prevent homes from being bulldozed. The bailiffs employed to demolish homes, Constant & Co. call themselves “gypsy specialists” and have a history of brutal and illegal behavior including the cruel Twin Oaks eviction in 2004.
The Dale Farm eviction, estimated to cost £18 million, would involve smashing chalets and mobile-homes, and physically forcing up to 90 families, including children, the elderly and infirm, to leave the district, impoverished, and with nowhere legally to live.
Given the scale of the eviction, we are likely to get advance warning, but we might not, and it could happen any time after August 31st. At the time of writing, local newspapers suggest it will likely happen in mid-September. Road closures around Dale Farm have been announced from 2nd Sept. To get notice of the eviction, sign up to our txt message alert service https://smsalerts.tachanka.org/dalefarm/ and pledge to stay some nights at Dale Farm, and subscribe to our email bulletin at http://lists.ucrony.net/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/dalefarm-solidarity.>
- Please link up with some friends in advance, and have transport planned so that you can come down quickly together. You can find a map and instructions on how to get to Dale Farm at http://dalefarm.wordpress.com/contact/ .
- Try to get a feel for the routes in and out of Dale Farm, and the neighbouring fields.
- Some of the roads are likely to be blocked by police once the eviction starts.
- Have a bag near the door ready, with a camera if you have one (video and still), and food and water.
- If you plan on being a legal observer, please take one of the training courses offered by the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain, or Green and Black Cross.
Phone a friend
It's a numbers game. The eviction was originally meant to cost £2 million, and now the threat of civil disobedience and resistance has raised the cost to over £18 million amid considerable delay. We can throw the outcome into further doubt if our numbers are big enough and maybe we can stop Councils once and for all from throwing endless money away on devastating Travellers communities, and making Travellers homeless. So please, phone your friends right now, and ask them to come to Dale Farm. Send everyone text messages, letting them know what is happening. Forward our bulletins to any relevant email lists you are on, and network Camp Constant through social media.
The way they are portrayed in the mainstream media is an ongoing concern for Travellers, with many tabloids still inciting fear campaigns against them. We have a media team to help back up Dale Farm residents and you are welcome to join it. Below are the key messages they suggest, should you wish to get involved.
1) Dale Farm is a former scrap yard, owned by Travellers and home to almost 1000 people for more than 30 years. Half of it is due to be bulldozed anytime after August 31.
2) The eviction is a form of ethnic cleansing which will result in Travellers being forced onto the road and their children pulled out of school. They would leave Dale Farm if they could, but council has refused to fulfil it's obligations to provide more Traveller pitches.
3) Spending 18 million on an avoidable eviction at a time of cuts is indefensible- it is a huge waste of public money that should be spent on supporting, not destroying, communities.
4) Supporters are urging people to come to Dale Farm the weekend of August 27th and after, to join Camp Constant at Dale Farm – a base for human rights monitors and those who will engage in civil disobedience to stop the bulldozing.
Site stuff (including stuff to bring)
Here‟s a map of the site – the numbers on here are plot numbers and do not necessarily match house numbers; there are no street names marked on here, but actually there are four main streets which are named:
You can reach the site team on mobile: 07583 621312
Stuff to bring
The site is mostly concrete, and you may be pitching tents tied down with string to rubble, on hard-standing/concrete, or sleeping in a marquee. This concrete base means that if it rains there is more potential for flooding, so, it would be a good idea to bring:
- Warm clothes
- Sleeping bags
- Pop-up tents
- Ground mats
- Torches/self-powered lights
- Anything you think might be useful / to help with construction/ peaceful resistance.
Gypsy & Traveller history
The Dale Farm community is mostly made up of Irish Travellers. However, there are a number of other Gypsy, Traveller and nomadic communities in the UK, with different heritages and traditions. Ignorance about different Gypsy and Traveller community histories is widespread, so here is a very cursory history1 (if you have improvements for this, please do feed them back). Several books have been written, and properly researched resources are available, for instance guides published on the Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) website (http://www.gypsy-traveller.org).
- Irish Travellers, or Pavee, who are one of the oldest Travelling people of the British Isles. As well as fulfilling important economic roles in rural economies, as tin smiths, tinkers and peddlers, they were also valued as sources of news and local information well into the 1950s. The numbers of Travellers was swelled from the C17th due to the repressive land policies of the British and then in the C19th due to the Irish Famine. Travellers speak two languages, Gammon, which is spoken in the south of Eire and Cant which is spoken in the north and the west of Ireland. Irish Travellers have a long association with England, with records of them travelling and trading going back into the nineteenth century. The passing of repressive legislation against Irish Travellers in Eire in 1963, in combination with better economic opportunities, led to many coming more permanently to Britain. Many Irish Traveller families now divide their time between the UK and Ireland (as well as travelling and working in mainland Europe) for work and holidays, and particularly to attend family christenings, weddings and funerals.
- Romany Gypsies are the largest group of Travelling people in the UK. They were thought to have originated from Egypt, hence the name „Gypsy‟, but linguistic research from the late C18th demonstrated that their origins were in northern India. From around the tenth century nomadic groups moved gradually north and westwards through the Ottoman and Byzantine empires (present day Middle East and Turkey) during the 11th to 13th centuries. While across these regions Roma settled or migrated only locally, the twin „shocks‟ of the rapid expansion of the Ottoman empire towards Europe and the advance of the plague led to a wave of Roma migration to south eastern and eastern Europe by the C14th. „Egyptians‟ reached Scotland in 1505 (via Spain) and England (via France) in 1514 . By then many of them had accepted the Catholic faith; as pilgrims they were permitted to travel in Europe. But arriving during the Reformation, Henry VIII thought of them as dangerous spies for the Roman Church. In 1530 Henry forbade Gypsies to come into the country, and following monarchs Mary I and Elizabeth I passed further laws making being a Gypsy a capital offence. There is no research showing how widely these laws were enforced: it is clear that despite the outlawing of Gypsies, by the late C18th they were an established part of British towns and countryside. They were valued seasonal labourers, entertainers, smiths and traders. While the content of their work has changed over the past two centuries, the nomadic form of their employment, and their commitment to being self-employed and flexible in their economic activities have remained central features of their lives. . Romany people have a strong family
1 The information that follows has been taken from three sources: A fact sheet produced by the FFT (http://www.gypsy-traveller.org/), the South West Alliance of Nomads website (www.gypsytravellerhelp.org), slightly abridged/amended from what was written by Revered Roger Redding, and latterly from a presentation written by Marc Willers in June 2010 also available via the FFT website.
based culture, one where children are highly valued. Even though many Romany Gypsies may live in houses today, a nomadic lifestyle often continues to be central to their identities, with families travelling through the summer when they are able.
- Scottish Travellers emerged between 1500 and 1800 as a result of Scottish people marrying into immigrant Romany groups from France and Spain. The Highland Clearances are thought to have added to their numbers. Owing to stricter enforcing of educational legislation, Scottish Travellers‟ literacy levels have tended to be higher than that of Irish Travellers or English and Welsh Romanies. Much of Scotland's traditional music has been collected from Traveller families. They have their own language which is known as Cant. In October 2008 K MacLennan v Gypsy Traveller Education and Information Project (CaseCheck Case Reports 2008) led to a landmark ruling that Scottish Gypsy/Travellers are a distinct ethnic group bringing them within the protection of the Race Relations Act (Amnesty International UK Blogs 2009).
- New Travellers or as some quite wrongly call them New Age Travellers started to form in the 1970s. Most of them come from the settled community: some chose the way of life In order to find a more environmentally sustainable and socially supportive way of life; others were just poor people, forced through economic circumstances to live on the road. Many young people from the North and the Midlands where poverty and unemployment were at their highest, groups of homeless young people bought old vehicles and took to the road. Today many of those people would like to come off the road but because they are being constantly moved on they have no chance of getting into council housing.
- Roma are Romany Gypsies who arrived here in the last century mainly as refugees from Eastern Europe following the collapse of communism in 1989. Although policies differed widely across the Eastern Bloc, in general socialist governments aimed to settled and „integrate‟ Roma into the broader population, often with disastrous results, Reviled by the majority community for apparently receiving preferential treatment, in fact Roma generally were housed in ghetto areas, ostracised from the surrounding population, received low level education and were pushed into marginal and unattractive occupations. After 1989 as social tensions and nationalistic attitudes intensified, the Roma became the target for racist attacks and this continues to this day.
- Bargees are a distinct group of Travellers who live and work on barges. There are now very few Bargees in Britain as canals are no longer usually used to carry freight. However some New Travellers wishing to get away from constantly being moved on by local authorities have bought up old narrow boats and travel on the canals. Recently this has come under fire from the water authority, who again want to move them on.
- Showmen and Circus People perhaps travel the most out of all these groups. In the middle ages, traders from Europe brought goods to trade from all over the world. Travelling entertainers such as jugglers, musicians and tumblers performed wherever people gathered to buy their goods. Rides first appeared in the 1800s. In 1889 the fairground people formed the UK Showmen‟s and Van Dwellers‟ Protection Association (later the Showmen's Guild) in response to attempts to regulate living in tents and vans. Their strategy centred round distancing themselves from „Gypsies‟ and emphasising their business credentials. The Guild was successful in becoming a „closed shop‟ so only Guild members could put on fairs. Membership of the Guild is fundamentally hereditary, and as a result over time showmen have become a distinct group.
Recognised Minority Ethnic status: It is important to note that Romani Gypsies and Irish Travellers have been held to be ‘ethnic’ groups for the purpose of the Race
Relations Act (RRA) 1976. In CRE v Dutton,1 the Court of Appeal found that Romani Gypsies were a minority with a long, shared history, a common geographical origin and a cultural tradition of their own.
In O’Leary v Allied Domecq,2 HHJ Goldstein reached a similar decision in respect of Irish Travellers. Although a county court judgment, it should be noted that, in Northern Ireland, Irish Travellers are explicitly protected from discrimination under Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 article 5, and this makes it highly unlikely that their status as members of a separate ethnic group could be open to challenge again in the United Kingdom.
It is for this reason, that Basildon Council is so keen to paint their clearance of the Traveller site at Dale Farm as „restoration of greenbelt‟ – without this cover it is an act guided by local racist hostility and would not be legally tenable – it would be an offence.
Although race relations legislation has been in force in the United Kingdom since 1965 and has developed considerably to protect against increasingly subtle forms of discrimination, Gypsies and Travellers are still experiencing discrimination of the most overt kind: „No blacks, no Irish, no dogs‟ signs disappeared decades ago, but the „No Travellers‟ signs, used intentionally to exclude Gypsies and Travellers, are still widespread, indicating that discrimination against these groups remains the last „respectable‟ form of racism in the United Kingdom. This is supported by the findings of a 2003 Mori poll conducted in England in which 34 per cent of respondents admitted to being personally prejudiced against Gypsies and Travellers. In 2004, Trevor Phillips, former Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and now Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), compared the situation of Gypsies and Travellers living in Great Britain to that of black people living in the American Deep South in the 1950s.
- In 1968 the Caravan Sites Act was passed saying that each local council had an obligation to provide a pitch for every Traveller in its area. Although the Act was fought for by the Gypsy Council, who believed it would allow Gypsy Travellers to continue their nomadic way of life, local authorities saw them as a means to assimilate them, and force them to settled down. The Act gave no deadline by when the pitches needed to be created, and this, in combination with sustained opposition by local residents meant that often either pitches were not created, or where they were, they were often old rubbish tips or even under flyovers, places far from other residential areas and services.
- The 1986 Public Order Act (S.39) gave police powers to direct trespassers to leave land if they had damaged it, and if they had more than six vehicles. It also extended this power to common land, highway verges, byways, green lanes and other minor highways and includes police powers to remove vehicles. This allows the police to hound Travellers following an eviction: there is effectively nowhere safe to stop.
- In 1994 the conservative government repealed the Caravan Sites Act and took away the obligation for local councils to provide sites. At least 5000 families were left without any legal home. The Gypsies and Travellers were told that they should look for their own sites and buy their own land and that councils would give them planning permission. Again this never happened (90% of Travellers planning applications are turned down) and families were forced to either go into housing or apply for planning
permission retrospectively, because no Gypsy could ever get planning permission granted because of local prejudice.
- In recent years many of the old traditional stopping places such as commons, old roads etc. have been sealed up and this has made it ever more difficult to live on the road. Although nomadism and unauthorised camping are not in themselves illegal, the effect of the legislation has been to criminalise a way of life. Those who have chosen the housing route have often found hostility from the settled population and many of these folk forced to live in houses have landed up clinically depressed. Many young people living on these estates have lost their cultural roots and identity and have ended up with a dysfunctional family life.
- Shortage of suitable accommodation is a key contributor to the poor socio-economic condition of Gypsies and Travellers. Sarah Spencer, one of the CRE‟s Commissioners, drew further attention to their plight in her 2005 article entitled „Gypsies and Travellers: Britain‟s forgotten minority‟:
18 per cent of Gypsies and Travellers were homeless in 2003 compared to 0.6 per cent of the population …Lacking sites on which to live, some pitch on land belonging to others; or on their own land but lacking permission for caravan use. There follows a cycle of confrontation and eviction, reluctant travel to a new area, new encampment, confrontation and eviction. Children cannot settle in school. Employment and health care are disrupted … There is a constant struggle to secure the bare necessities, exacerbated by the inability of many adults to read and write, by the reluctance of local officials to visit sites, and by the isolation of these communities from the support of local residents … But we know that these are communities experiencing severe disadvantage. Infant mortality is twice the national average and life expectancy at least 10 years less than that of others in their generation.
- The Localism Bill is a concerning development. As evictions around the country have continued, so Dale Farm has expanded, as one of the last „safe‟ places for Traveller families to live. Since the Coalition government came to power in 2010, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has scrapped the Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) and introduced the Localism Bill. In March 2011, the all-party Commons Communities and Local Government Committee published a report on the impact of the abolition of the RSS system. It stated that. Committee chair Clive Betts said:
Regional Spatial Strategies bridged the gap between those planning issues determined by local policy or concern, and those subject to policy goals defined at a national level – such as those for housing or renewable energy. We...are concerned about the hiatus created by their intended abolition. This is giving rise to an inertia that is likely to hinder development - making it much harder to deliver necessary but controversial or emotive 'larger than local' facilities - such as…sites for Gypsies and Travellers. It will also make it more difficult to ensure that our national need for new housing is met.
A local authority study and report in June 2011 produced by the Irish Traveller Movement for Britain („Planning for Gypsies and Travellers: The Impact of Localism‟), estimates that already the number of residential pitches for which planning permission would be granted to Travellers has fallen from 2,919 earmarked by the RSS scheme, to 1,395 remaining in
local authority plans, with indications that this number will continue to reduce. Instead of the RSS, the Localism Bill criminalises squatters, and by the government‟s own admission, will also lead to at least 40,000 evictions from council homes.
- The Legal Aid Bill repressively targets Gypsies and Travellers. As reported by the Friends, Families and Travellers, August 2011 (http://www.gypsy-traveller.org/no-mad-laws/):>
Hidden within the details of the Legal Aid Bill are provisions that will ensure that the vast majority of Gypsies and Travellers who live in caravans and who need advice on eviction and planning matters will be denied Legal Aid… The continual failure by central and local government to address the provision of sites for Gypsies and Travellers has resulted in a situation where some 25% of the population are homeless. Now, the chances of homeless Gypsies and Travellers establishing a lawful site for themselves are being further undermined by this Bill, which will deny them Legal Aid in planning cases and in eviction cases (see Schedule 1 Part 1 paragraph 27(9) and Schedule 1 Part 2 paragraph 5 of the Bill). Significantly, although these provisions will have a disproportionate impact upon Gypsies and Travellers, the Bill’s Equality Impact Assessment does not mention Gypsies and Travellers at all.
We have an opportunity here to develop better connections and understanding between our different communities. Whatever communities we represent, we have a chance here to break down barriers and find ways to better understand and respect each other. Building trust takes time. The Travellers at Dale Farm have made the first move by calling for our support, and in letting us come here, into their space, to stand with them. That is a huge act of faith on their part. By coming here you are taking the next step, what happens next is up to all of us.
Legal info and bust card
It‟s really important to know your rights and to look after yourself and those around you. It‟s important to read the following information carefully. During a protest, with police on site, you may be at risk of arrest. It‟s important that you are fully prepared and that you do not unduly incriminate yourself. We need to support each other: even if you do not think you will be at risk of being arrested, you might be able to support others around you if arrests are taking place, so please read the following carefully and note down the important numbers, so that you have them when and where you need them.
This info is taken from GREEN AND BLACK CROSS and is available here:
and see: http://greenandblackcross.org for more information.
BUST CARD INFO: If you are arrested, you are entitled to:
REMAIN SILENT. We strongly recommend you answer „no comment‟ to all questions and during interviews, for your own benefit and that of others. From the moment you are stopped, everything you say is evidence - there is no such thing as a „friendly chat‟. The police are trained to get information out of you, so stay strong.
- Do not sign any statements. - Make sure you are told what you have been arrested for. - You do not have to give your name, address or DOB, but this will delay your release. - However, your photo, prints and DNA can be taken without your consent. - You can have one phone call made on your behalf informing someone of your arrest. We recommend that you ask the custody sergeant to contact GBC Arrestee Support. Tell the police you authorise them to talk to Arrestee Support about you and your welfare, so we can monitor your welfare and hopefully arrange someone to meet you upon release. - Make sure you ask for a translator if English is not your first language. - You can ask for and should be given Vegan or vegetarian food. - Ask for a copy of PACE codes to read (then you will know all your rights in custody). Do ask. - Ask for a medical examination if you feel unwell or hurt. (Inform the custody officer if you are on medication.)
If you are under 17: - You will be required to have an appropriate adult to be present if you are arrested during an interview - The police will ideally want your a parent/ legal guardian for this, but if they are unavailable you can either have a social worker (which we do not recommend), or another responsible adult. This can be any adult, but the police might not agree to someone with a criminal record or on the action.
TO ACCESS FREE LEGAL ADVICE: - If you are arrested for a non-imprisonable offence for which the police do not intend to interview you, you can either speak on the telephone to a solicitor of your choice (for which they may charge – our recommended solicitors have agreed not to) or you will be given the opportunity to get free advice from a legal adviser at a call centre known as CDS Direct (these advisers are probably less good at advising activists) - If you are arrested for or a more serious offence, or one for which you are to be interviewed, you will be able to access a solicitor of your choice for free (our recommendation is below), provided that they can be contacted within two hours. If not, you will be given a duty solicitor. It may be better to „no comment‟ until release and then get good quality legal advice tailored to activists. The police may tell you that it will be quicker without legal advice – we strongly recommend that you always ask for legal advice and use our recommended solicitors:
Hodge, Jones & Allen solicitors: 07659 111 192
- When the police act they should be carrying out a lawful duty, so ask them what they are doing and why - Make a note of what was said, when, by whom, as soon afterwards as possible.
What to do If you are arrested: - Let Arrestee Support and later let email@example.com know what happens afterwards so we can track outcomes. If you saw/experienced inappropriate police behavior: - Note the officers‟ numbers, find other witnesses - Make a detailed note of what happened as soon as you can. Include the time and date you made it - Complete a witness form asap especially if you saw an incident that led to an arrest, or injury - Consider complaining about the police officer. If you have a serious injury, consult a solicitor first.www.ipcc.gov.uk - Consider writing to your MP www.writetothem.com - Tell everyone you know!
Arrestee Support Dale Farm legal phone on: 07928 669 515
Hodge, Jones & Allen solicitors: 07659 111 192
Birds Solicitors: 07966 234 994
Please note: Legal Observers are not acting as solicitors, their name is not intended to imply they are legally qualified or recognised to act as a solicitor.
On being stopped & searched: You do not have to give your name and address under ANY search power or if stopped for questions - SO DON‟T! (there are limited exceptions - see below) BEFORE ANY search you should be told: - officer‟s name and/or police station - entitled to get a copy of the search form (police can decline to give on the spot if not practicable to do so) - object of the proposed search ie. the legal power being used and what they are looking for - grounds to suspect you (not for s60 or s44) • You do not have to explain why you are there. • The police can only give you a pat down, remove outer clothes (coat, jacket, gloves), search your bags, and have you empty pockets unless go to private area. • You are not required to be actively compliant. You can 'go limp' as passive resistance if you wish. The police can use reasonable force to search. • If not given, consider asking the reason for the search – the legal power, what they are looking for, and what grounds they have to suspect you (not required for Section 60 or Section 44). • Make a note of name, number and police force of the officers searching, what you were told before the search, the reasons given for searching you, how long you had to wait to be searched, the start/end time of the search and (immediately after the search) more detailed notes including the scene before the search. Keep the search record. • You do not have to comply with attempts to photo or record you. The police have no power to collect DNA data during a search. • Seizure of property: no need to give name/address, ask for the evidence bag to be numbered and written on search form. Items found during a search that could be taken under different search power can be seized.
NB. Police can fingerprint you before arrest if suspect you of an offence and can‟t establish your name and address or think you have given a false one (s61 PACE). Stops for questioning – should be receipted: ask for a record of the search. Police need reasonable grounds to suspect you to search under: • Section 1 PACE, search for articles for burglary/theft, stolen goods, offensive weapons, bladed articles, items may be used for criminal damage. Items can be seized. Police not entitled to read or record personal info. • Section 43 Terrorism Act 2000 If senior officer approves the following powers in a specific area for a period, police don‟t need grounds to suspect you – they are blanket search powers: • Section 60 Criminal Justice Act, to search for offensive weapons and dangerous instruments • Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000. The police only have the power to arrest you for not giving your name and address when asked, if: - you are suspected of anti-social behaviour. This requires reasonable grounds to suspect you have caused, or are likely to, cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons – which can include police - under s50 of Police Reform Act 2002 - you are a driver of vehicle on the road (and date of birth) or if involved in accident or road traffic offence whether in a car, on a bike or as a pedestrian - the police wish to summons you for an offence or issue a fixed penalty notice (arrest under s25 PACE). Occupations The laws on occupying buildings depend on who owns it, whether it is private or public, and your status in that space. Trespass is a civil offence and, for this reason, a police officer should not threaten an arrest for civil trespass. If they do so, ask under what power your arrest is being threatened. Aggravated trespass is a criminal offence. - Section 68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 describes aggravated trespass as when a person trespasses on land and, in relation to the lawful activities of others, intimidates them so as to deter them from engaging in that activity or obstructs or disrupts that activity in any way. Section 69 gives a senior police officer the powers to order any person believed to be involved in aggravated trespass to leave the land. If such a person refuses to leave after being ordered to by a senior officer or if they return to the land in question within a period of three months, this is counted as an offence. - Everyone can be liable for assault, including police officers, security guards and bailiffs, so make note of all physical coercion that may be used, and contact the GBC legal team:
Dale Farm legal phone on: 07928 669 515
Hodge, Jones & Allen solicitors: 07659 111 192
Birds Solicitors: 07966 234 994
Avoiding arrest Knowing your rights is essential but avoiding having to spend any time with the police is also a good idea...
To some degree, not getting arrested obviously means avoiding committing potential offences in the presence of police officers, witnesses or CCTV. For criminals, evading arrest generally means not still being spotted at or near the scene of the crime when the cops turn up. However, for protesters, it's not as simple as that. You can't guarantee you won't be arrested just because you think you haven't committed a crime.
Things to consider to reduce the risk of arrest: - Don't take drugs or any kind of bladed object (even a little penknife or craft knife)with you on protest. Check your pockets/bag etc before you leave the house. Leave behind EVERYTHING you'll not need on the protest. - Before arriving at the protest, buddy up with somebody you trust so you can watch each others backs. - Don't drink alcohol during or before protests. - Stay aware and alert. Keep an eye on police movements and and keep track of possible escape routes should the police start to form lines or charge into the crowd. - Avoid engaging in dialogue with the cops during the protest - best ignore them if possible and move on. Heated debates with cops often precede arrest. - Definitely don't swear in the presence of a cop as that might get your nicked under Section 5 of the public order act. (It is an offence under this section „if a person (i) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour or (ii) displays any writing, sign or other visible repre- sentation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress‟.) - If asked to move and threatened with arrest for causing an obstruction then don't argue, just say ok and start moving somewhere else, even if only a few feet away. you can always go back when the cop moves on to harass somebody else. (The obstruction has to be „wilful‟, so you will often be asked to move and if you do not then this will be used as evidence of your „wilful‟ obstruction in court.) - The end of a protest is usually the most risky period. People are tired, some may be drunk, everyone is less alert, the media is gone and it may be getting dark. The cops on the other hand, they may now be out for revenge, or still have a media story to spin, budgets to justify and loads of meat wagons and cells sitting empty. - It's good to leave together on mass if possible, certainly avoid leaving alone. Police may pick people off. If you've been wearing something similar to loads of other people then avoid getting picked off on the basis of mistaken identity by changing into something different.
A shorter one-page bust card is repeated at the back of this pack. Read it. Know it. Use it. Write the numbers on your arm for when you might need them, so you have them ready for your own use, or to pass on to someone else. Dale Farm legal phone on: 07928 669 515 Hodge, Jones & Allen solicitors: 07659 111 192
Birds Solicitors: 07966 234 994
The unexpected can happen - buddy up and write these on your arm:
GBC Legal to be confirmed on site* Hodge, Jones & Allen solicitors 07659 111 192
Camp Constant legal coordination 07521 834 884
If you see someone arrested and taken into custody, find out their name from people nearby if you can, and contact us.
TAKEN INTO CUSTODY?
STAY CALM * STAY QUIET * YOU’LL BE OUT SOON
You have the right to have a person told of your arrest – this could be a friend or family member, but if you have told them in
advance, we recommend using GBC Arrestee Support. Tell the custody officer you authorise them to speak to us about your
situation and welfare. Then your friends and family can ask us for updates. You have a right to free legal advice – we recommend
Bindmans. Do not use the duty solicitor. When you get out contact let us know!
REMAIN SILENT ‘no comment’ to ALL questions before and after arrest and during interviews. From the moment you are stopped,
everything you say is evidence - there is no such thing as a friendly chat. It is easier to say nothing at all than selectively answering
questions. Say nothing and sign no statements without legal advice.
• You have a right to be told why you are under arrest. • Your photo, prints and DNA can be taken, you will be searched and your
possessions taken. • Give your name and address (and maybe your DOB but nothing else) to the custody officer AT the police
station. • You have a right to see a doctor if sick or hurt. • Do exercise your right to read the PACE code about how you should be
treated in custody. • If you are under 17 you will have to have an appropriate adult if you are interviewed (parent/legal guardian or
another responsible adult, don’t agree to a social worker, GBClegal may be able to help.)
You do NOT have to give your name or address under ANY search power or if stopped
The police only have the power to arrest you for not giving your name and address when asked, if:
1. you are a driver of a vehicle on the road (and date of birth) or if involved in accident or road traffic offence whether in a
car, on a bike or as a pedestrian
2. you are suspected of anti-social behaviour (reasonable grounds to suspect have caused, or are likely to, cause harassment,
alarm or distress to one or more persons – can include police but higher threshold) under s50 of Police Reform Act 2002. May be
trying it on, so can say will give it when get to custody desk.
3. the police wish to summons you for an offence or issue a fixed penalty notice (arrest under s25 PACE)
On being stopped & searched
• You do not have to explain why you are there. • You do not have to co-operate with attempts to photo or record you.
• The police can only give you a pat down, remove outer clothes, search your bags, and have you empty pockets, unless they take
you to a private space. • You are not required to be actively compliant. You can 'go limp' as passive resistance if you wish. The
police can use reasonable force to search.
Before being searched you should be told: 1) officer’s name and/or police station 2) that entitled to copy of the search form (police
can decline to give on the spot if not practicable to do so) – ask for and keep the search record 3) legal power being used and what
they are looking for 4) grounds to suspect you (not for blanket search powers)
For these powers the police need reasonable grounds to suspect YOU:
• s1 PACE, to search for articles for use for burglary/theft, stolen goods, offensive weapons, bladed articles, items that may be
used for criminal damage. Nature of search should relate to what they are looking for and why they suspect you. So always
check what they are searching for and why and challenge them (eg. read from your phone when they said they were looking for
For these powers, police don’t need to suspect you – these are blanket search powers:
• s60 Criminal Justice Act, to search for offensive weapons and dangerous instruments. (Masks - If s60 order is in place police
can require you to remove any item reasonably believe used wholly or mainly for purpose of concealing identify or to seize any
item reasonably believe you intend to wear wholly or mainly for that purpose. Can arrest you if you refuse. )
Inappropriate police behavior?
When the police act they should be carrying out a lawful duty, so ask them what they are doing and why. Record all the details of
what happened. Find other witnesses, especially people videoing, call or email firstname.lastname@example.org, especially if you saw an
The unexpected can happen – buddy up and write these on your arm:
Dale Farm Legal Observer phone: 07928 669515
Birds Solicitors: 07966 234 994 / Hodge, Jones & Allen solicitors 07659 111 192