Commissioner admits he 'should have chosen words carefully' after backlash from gypsy and traveller debate

  Posted: 25.11.21 at 10:32 by The Editor

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Warwickshire' Police and Crime Commissioner has admitted that he misspoke during a debate on unauthorised traveller encampments after receiving backlash from local councillors.

PCC Philip Seccombe said he "should have chosen his words more carefully" but argued they came as part of a much wider discussion.

He said he recognised the "need for tolerance" after Kenilworth town and district Councillor Richard Dickson labelled his words as "hostile".

But the commissioner said his comments were aimed at a "minority" in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities that "cause considerable disruption and damage in our communities".

In a statement to Nub News he said: "The discussions highlighted the work that is ongoing to ensure that, when unauthorised encampments occur, there is a proportionate response which takes into consideration the needs of all parties, while seeking to resolve the difficulties that residents can experience in the fairest possible way.

“Just as with all parts of society, there are some elements in the travelling community whose behaviour tarnishes the majority who are respectful of others and cause no problems of any kind when they visit the county.

"It is to this minority, who do not wish to engage constructively with authorities and cause considerable disruption and damage in our communities, that my comments were aimed."

PCC Seccombe also said the subject is likely to cause polarised and unhelpful opinions, but emphasised that his office "has always sought to be proportionate, justified and takes into account the particular circumstances of each situation and the needs and rights of all involved".

Last week Cllr Dickson had criticised the commissioner for saying: "We want to make Warwickshire the most uncomfortable place for Gypsies, Romas and Travellers to come to" at this month's police and crime panel.

The former Mayor of Kenilworth said this "created a hostile environment for gypsies and travellers and is a failure of leadership".

But PCC Seccombe replied saying these comments were only aimed at members of those communities who do not act appropriately.

“I think it is right that it is made clear that such behaviour, which adversely impacts on both settled and non-settled communities, will not be tolerated," he added.

"At the same time we must acknowledge that more can and should be done to ensure that there is greater understanding and better support for those in the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community within our county who do not behave in this way.

“I fully accept that I should have chosen my words more carefully to make this point more clearly, particularly as I have previously emphasised the need for tolerance on all sides on these issues.

“My approach in Warwickshire has always been to bring all parties together to work constructively on what is a long standing and challenging issue and that is something I am committed to continue doing.”

(Image by RealDemocracyGeek via wikipedia)

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