Romani Studies

Nomadism and the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act: Constraining Gypsy and Traveller mobilities in Britain

Romani Studies (2013), 23, (1), 83–106.

Abstract

Since the sixteenth century the state has restricted the mobilities of Gypsies and Travellers in Britain. As studies have repeatedly demonstrated, nomadic Gypsies and Travellers experience high levels of exclusion. In 1994 a duty to provide caravan sites was repealed and greater restrictions on nomadism were introduced. Motivation for restrictive state policy stems from economic factors but also involves processes of othering. The rise of New Labour in the mid-1990s left many to wonder whether constraints on the travelling way of life would continue or if new, more tolerant, policy initiatives would emerge. This article considers the impacts of policy introduced by the New Labour Government on nomadic Gypsies and Travellers and the rationale behind these policy initiatives. The 2003 Anti Social Behaviour Act, the main New Labour policy that affects nomadic Gypsies and Travellers, promoted new eviction powers which campaigners have argued could lead to a greater cycle of eviction. The article draws from local case-study sites where attempts have been made to develop transit sites and the role of political opposition, the media, and public opinion in thwarting these proposals.

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Kabachnik, Peter

Ryder, Andrew