Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights


Posted on 21 Jan 2020

Court of Appeal rules that an injunction to prevent camping on public land would breach the rights of the communities it targeted

  • Bromley Council sought injunction to stop encampments on public land
  • Case represents first challenge by a group representing Gypsies and Travellers
  • Liberty intervened in appeal case initially brought by London Gypsies and Travellers

The Court of Appeal today ruled that Gypsies and Travellers have an “enshrined freedom” to move from one place to another, and that an injunction to prevent camping on public land would breach the rights of the communities it targeted.

Bromley Council sought the injunction, which was rejected by the High Court in May 2019, after an intervention by community group London Gypsies and Travellers.

The Court of Appeal upheld that decision and highlighted that while numerous injunctions have been granted in recent years, this was the first time one has been challenged in proceedings that included representatives of the Gypsy and Traveller community.

Fourteen councils in and around London have already obtained injunctions, breach of which may be punished with fines, imprisonment or the seizure of property of Gypsies and Travellers if they camp on public land.

Debby Kennett, CEO of London Gypsies and Travellers, said: “We are extremely pleased with this result and proud to have been involved in such an important case which advances the recognition and protection of the nomadic way of life in the UK.

“The judgment sets a high standard for councils seeking injunctions and stresses the need to put in place adequate and safe provision. We are keen to work with councils to explore alternatives to evictions and injunctions, such as negotiated stopping.”

Sam Grant, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Liberty, said: “This is a major victory for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the face of increasing hostility from local and national Governments. If you’re a member of these communities, these injunctions, like the Government’s proposals to criminalise trespass, are a real threat to your entire way of life.

“It’s now up to the Government to provide adequate safe sites for encampments to help these communities live and reduce the discrimination they face.”

According to the judgment (page 53): “It must be recognised that the cases referred to above make plain that the Gypsy and Traveller community have an enshrined freedom not to stay in one place but to move from one place to another. An injunction which prevents them from stopping at all in a defined part of the UK comprises a potential breach of both the ECHR and the Equality Act.”

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