Police defend response to travellers

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Police have defended their response to the arrival of groups of travellers in Skegness last month.

Local businesses and residents complained about anti-social behaviour and intimidation by the travellers camping in the town.

East Lindsey District Council secured a court injunction requiring anyone occupying its Skegness foreshore car parks in caravans or motorhomes unlawfully to leave within four hours. The injunction was this week extended to December 8.

Security staff were then employed by the council at seafront car parks to prevent travellers returning over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Speaking at last week’s town council meeting Insp Andrew Morrice said: “Police received about 30 calls, many to say that the travellers were coming. There were a small number of calls about anti-social behaviour, many concerning travellers’ children. There was a very small number in terms of incidents and crime. There was no surge in crime and no travellers were arrested.

“You can get 40 or 50 travellers in a venue which can be intimidating, but the police cannot stop people going for a drink.”

Insp Morrice added that the injunctions had been effective in forcing travellers to move from the car park and deterring others from arriving. He told the meeting that a group of 70 to 80 travellers in the Boston area did not come to Skegness as a result.

Coun Sid Dennis blamed reports on social media for exaggerating the problems caused by the travellers and deterring visitors from the town. Fears had been raised that scores of travellers were arriving in Skegness for a wedding.

He said: “People spreading rumours did more harm than the travellers. Many hundreds of people did not come to Skegness because of these rumours. Social media can jump up and down, but I cannot see what can be done to resolve this.”

Councillors voted to hold a public meeting to discuss issues surrounding the travellers.

Coun Robin Hunter-Clarke, who proposed the meeting with Coun Danny Brookes, said: “People are too scared to report crime. People do have questions that are not being answered, we need a dedicated meeting to discuss this.”

No date has yet been set for the meeting. Representatives from the police and East Lindsey District Council have been invited to attend.”