I’m not too sure whether placing the word success within inverted commas was meant to be ironic or not, but your article Police management of travellers a ‘success’ (Herald, August 29) was anything but a true representation of the situation in Findon.
The travellers arrived in the village on Friday, August 16, at approximately. 2pm.
By 7pm, there were some 50 caravans on the Green.
During that period, only two police officers were in attendance and appeared to be there only to ensure that confrontation between residents and the travellers did not occur. Whilst the criminal act of breaking on to the green was being perpetrated, residents were being warned they risked arrest for obstruction and for incitement by using outraged remarks. Meanwhile, further infringements of the law by the travellers occurred, including breaking the speed limit within a residential area, use of mobile phones whilst driving and minors sat upon adults laps in the front of vehicles – all within sight of the attending officers. The action taken? Nothing.
Despite being able to, (witness the subsequent Sompting event) the police refused to serve a Section 61 order on the encampment, merely recommending that a court order be sought, a process that takes a least a week. In the period before eviction, the travellers threw abuse and made physical threats towards residents and members of the public who ventured near the Green.
The village green was a no-go area for the whole period. In that period, the police presence consisted of a couple of patrol cars doing just that, patrolling about.
Yes, the police were in attendance when the eviction actually occurred, but even then, very much as witnesses to a process being served.
Post-eviction, the village was left to handle the travellers’ stock-in-trade. Rubbish strewn everywhere, gas bottles left discarded, human excrement left in hedgerows and people’s gardens. The cost, otherwise borne by the community, was minimised by a huge local work party. Further costs will be incurred by the parish needing to fortify the Green from future incursion.
So, a police success? Maybe in Sompting, but not from the viewpoint of Findon residents. By presenting the two events in the same article you presented a wholly inaccurate picture.