Sussex Police has become a leading force working with the gypsy and traveller community. The force’s better understanding of their culture allows us to work better with their communities and resolve concerns and issues lawfully, expediently and sensitively benefiting all communities.
During June, Gypsy Roma Traveller History month, the force was working with the gypsy and traveller community in Sussex to support them as it does with other communities in the county.
During the last advisory group meeting on 1 June, which has representatives from officers in the force and members of the community, the Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) flag was flown at police HQ in Lewes.
During the month children from the GRT community attended events organised to introduce them to policing, thinking about it as a career and had an opportunity to meet the police dogs and go out with the road traffic officers.
The Sussex Travellers and Gypsies have also received £500 for community engagement events from the police property act fund which is made up of monies received by the police from property confiscated by order of the courts and then sold.
As a first for any police force, Sussex also was given the opportunity to submit an article to the Travellers Times, an online newspaper for the community to reflect our improved relationship with the community. The article featured Chief Inspector Howard Hodges.
Superintendent James Collis, Gypsy and Traveller Equality Champion, said, "It is especially important for me that we ensure we treat everyone fairly, Gypsies and Travellers are part of our communities and are given the same respect and opportunity, that we would give to anyone else. In Sussex, our engagement in gypsy and traveller communities has helped shape some of our policies, and enabled open and transparent discussion around interpretation of the law, and general dialogue on keeping safe.
"One of our key priorities is encouraging people to build a cohesive and tolerant community. Hate crime is not tolerated, one of the many groups on the receiving end of hate crime are Gypsy and Travellers and we would encourage you to report any hate crime against them as you would any other.
"We are incredibly proud of the work we do to work with and support this community integrate better with the settled communities irrespective of background, there is always more in common than divides us a people when we want to look for it."