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Award nomination for police officer that tackled traveller camps

A Sandwell Police officer has been shortlisted for an award after securing orders banning unauthorised encampments across the borough – and helping cut the number of illegal traveller sites by around 80 per cent. 

PC Tracey Dudley from the Sandwell Police Partnerships team has been working with Sandwell Council since 2015 to address community concerns over encampments that were regularly springing up in parks and council land.

It culminated in June 2017 with the granting of an injunction that bans people from setting up unauthorised encampments at 17 different sites – and anyone flouting the order risks being arrested and jailed.

Now Sandwell Police and Sandwell Council have together been nominated for a local government award.

WMP
L-R Sandwell Council's Legal Assistant Lisa Callaghan-Butler, Solicitor Mumtaz Badhur and Sandwell Police's PC Tracey Dudley

PC Tracey Dudley, said: “We were increasingly hearing from residents worried about the number of encampments that were popping up in West Bromwich; people felt intimidated due to the associated anti-social behaviour that came with them.

“A number of people were banned from Sandwell for between five and 10 years after being found to be involved in criminal damage and anti-social behaviour linked to encampments.

“We set to work gathering evidence to support our injunction, while also directing unauthorised encampments to set up at a transit site in Smethwick, which allows people to pay and stay in their caravans on the site.”

A second injunction was granted in June 2018, which has been hailed a phenomenal success with only 20 incursions being recorded in the past year, as opposed to 95 last year.

In May, the joint programme won a West Midlands Police Chief Constable’s award for coming up with a solution to a big issue in the area.

WMP

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic investment Councillor Paul Moore said: “Our partnership working on unauthorised encampments has transformed the way we deal with the issue.

“We’ve reduced the cost of cleaning up after encampments – as well as bailiffs and court fees – from £250,000 a year, to next to nothing.
 
“Since the transit site opened just over a year ago, there have been around 20 occasions when groups have attempted to set up unauthorised encampments and we’ve been able to move them on within hours of their arrival.
 
“We’ve also received praise from Government for the way we’re dealing with this. This was a major issue for the council and our residents, and I’m proud that the work we’re doing has been recognised by this award nomination.”

Sandwell Council Legal team and Sandwell Police’s PC Tracey Dudley have now been recognised for their work and have been shortlisted for an award under the Local Government Chronicle Awards in the Public Partnerships category.

The award ceremony will be held in London on Wednesday 13 March. Wish them luck!