AIBU to feel frustrated? Attempted theft of bikes incident, police not interested.

(130 Posts)
HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 11:59:27

DH and DD(7) went for a cycle yesterday along a cycle track that runs all the way into our local city centre. It's safe (or so we thought), runs alongside a river for a few miles so is a pretty run and passes a lovely coffee shop half way through. Perfect for my eager DD cyclist.

3 miles into the run, my DH and DD were surrounded by a gang of youngsters who tried to intimidate them into surrendering their bikes. There was glass spread across the whole track and DH slowed to a halt to lift the bikes over and it was then that these kids appeared from behind pillars of a bridge. DH said that he counted approx 12 of them, ranging from about 6 years of age to 14 years of age. DH had picked up both bikes at the same time and told DD to stay close and walked the 3 metres or so over the glass. One of the older lads barged into DH but he kept walking, but all the while starting to feel real anxiety because DD was with him.

He urged her to get on her bike and gave her a shove to start her off quickly but heard some of the kids say "push her off, get the bike". He gave them an earful but they laughed at him, told him to "f*ck off" and that they all had "iron bars to batter him with". Some lads had started to jog after my DD so he flew after her but they all started chasing and throwing stones. One stone caught DD at the back of the head, thumped off her helmet and another stone caught her on her bottom. Big enough to leave a bruise.

They did get away, Thank God, but are really shaken by the whole ordeal. DD who by no means is an easy crier, sobbing and white as a sheet. DH telephoned the local police at the coffee shop, police arrived but told DH that the kids were most likely from the gypsie site nearby and were more or less above the law. They admitted that they wouldn't be following it up because it was known amongst the police that gypsie's would find out where they lived, and make their lives a nightmare. DH pointed out that there was glass most likely placed across the path to stop cyclists, and the police officer said that they'd get it swept up, but other than that, no further action would be taken.

I'm so angry about this. My gut instinct was to try and go down to the site and appeal to the Mums of these kids, but DH thinks I'm nuts. I'm not going to, but I'm appalled that these kids are getting away with it. At it's best, the whole situation has really shaken DD up, but at its worst, it could have been terrible. DH is 6ft 5' and the kids had a tough enough pack mentality to take him on.

What can I do, apart from avoid this track like the plague?

gordyslovesheep Mon 22-Apr-13 12:01:54

really - contact the Daily Mail asap

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 22-Apr-13 12:03:12

How frightening for your DD.

Seriously though the police told your DH they wouldn't follow it up because they were scared of the gypsies - that sounds most most odd.

andubelievedthat Mon 22-Apr-13 12:07:50

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HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:08:18

Don't fancy appearing on the DM, thanks. Would rather the Police actually do their jobs.

MrsCampbellBlack it was awful for DD and I'm gutted that it's happened. I'm really appalled that the Police Officers who attended aren't taking it seriously. They said all the right things with DD at the time, but it's action I want. Surely, these kids aren't above the law?

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:09:46

No, andubelievedthat, I wouldn't joke about something like this.

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 22-Apr-13 12:09:57

Look you need to phone the police station and report the officers for not pursuing the case because they're too frightened of the gypsies.

This does sound most odd though.

quoteunquote Mon 22-Apr-13 12:11:43

What can I do

Contact the local paper, ask them to do a story on the situation, so that people find out that they will be in danger if using the cycle path, mention you have alerted the local police commissioner, see below,

I would contact your local council town/parish go along to the next meeting, and ask what they intend to do about the situation, if the police are not prepared to attempt to tackle it.

write a letter to the local police commissioner, explain what happened, explain why you think the police response is unacceptable, send it recored delivery,

quoteunquote Mon 22-Apr-13 12:13:42

That would be,

I would contact your local council town/parish council meeting

Callisto Mon 22-Apr-13 12:14:09

I find the lack of police response all too believable. The police never follow up complaints like this against travellers.

gordyslovesheep Mon 22-Apr-13 12:15:26

I would be complaining to the Police then

yaimee Mon 22-Apr-13 12:19:21

Think quote has it spot on.
sorry this happened. How awful for your dd and dh.

livinginwonderland Mon 22-Apr-13 12:19:23

I'm not surprised the police haven't done much. These communities can get very violent and most police seem to stay away as much as possible. Go back the police and insist something is done - if they refuse, contact your local paper. Other people need to know what happened!

I hope your DH and DD are okay.

Snoopingforsoup Mon 22-Apr-13 12:20:35

I have to believe it. My friend's business is affected by travellers who turn up to her lane every few months, camp there, eye up her property and horses. When they move on again, they leave a real mess to be cleaned up. The Police are not able to do anything it seems even when a crime has been committed. The council can't do anything about it either.
I think it's very wrong but sadly, they are aggressive and threatening towards my friend and her family and make her life hell. It has also blighted the property and they're unable to sell it!
I have sympathy to a point where Gypsies/travellers are concerned, but when I hear of stories such as this - it does make you wonder how they appear to be above the law!

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:21:29

Thanks. All good advice. I've already found who the local Councillor is and I've drafted an email to send. And, come to think of it, I used to know someone from my local area who is now a reporter for the local newspaper. I'll pop a note through his letter box asking him to contact me. I really don't want DD's or DH's photo's in the paper though, not after what the police have said.

lardybum Mon 22-Apr-13 12:21:38

Are they buggery above the law!

Ring the police back, speak to someone higher up and complain/demand something be done. If no luck, contact the local MP, go to the papers, contact whoever you can over this because it is unacceptable.

And surely it is up to you, or your DH, whether to press charges or not?

IloveJudgeJudy Mon 22-Apr-13 12:21:50

I believe this, too. DH had a works van stolen. Police knew it was on a local traveller/gypsy camp and told DH they were too scared to go and get it. Eventually they did raid the camp, but it was a full-blown exercise. They did not just turn up as they would with anyone else. it does sometimes seem that some people are above the law.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Mon 22-Apr-13 12:22:02

Avoid avoid avoid, don't go there, don't appeal to the mums. Be grateful they are ok and have their bikes still. There's a reason the police won't / can't help you.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:22:40

quote, thank you. Your advice has focused me. I'm not going to let this drop.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Mon 22-Apr-13 12:24:38

The police can't do anything as its a war they won't win and they know it.

Dahlen Mon 22-Apr-13 12:26:14

I'd go back to the police and ask to speak to the Duty Inspector. I find it incredibly hard to believe what's happened, but assuming it's all true, I would not be letting it stand. It's outrageous.

Are you sure your DH hasn't misunderstood what the police said at the time, bearing in mind he was understandably shook up? Maybe he's unintentionally painted a different picture because of this and in the act of paraphrasing what the police said when he got home and recounted things to you. It's just that even if the police decided not to follow up for the reasons they've given, it would be professional suicide to tell your DH that.

Your DH is right about one thing definitely - do not go down to speak to the mothers of these children. You risk inflaming the situation and finding yourself on the wrong end of a charge of causing harassment, alarm or distress.

Hope you are all ok and soon get over this. It must have been horrible.

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HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:27:15

I'm going to call the city centre Station today, lardybum. I'm not sure how much of what the officers have said has been lost in translation - DH is a hefty, law-abiding tradesman and a man of few words. He's taken their advice and wants to 'leave-it' and is just glad nothing worse happened. It doesn't help that he knows other tradesmen have had run-ins with travellers in the past and therefore won't question the officers' attitude.

I'm however, very angry and guilty that I wasn't there to protect my DD, not that I could have done much

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:29:31

Dahlen, cross-post. That's what I was trying to put into words. You've done it better than me.

Gruffalo, I don't see your point?

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CelticPixie Mon 22-Apr-13 12:31:51

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givemeaclue Mon 22-Apr-13 12:32:53

Contact the police commissioner for your area

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 12:33:57

I'm sorry but I can't believe the Police said that.

It's far more likely that they see it as a waste of time being as though there are 12 kids to identify and no witnesses.

lardybum Mon 22-Apr-13 12:34:35

The thing is, if the police continue to be too scared to do anything, matters will only get worse until something is done about it and if it were me, I would be fighting for that something to be done. It isn't on that people can't even ride their bike without being targetted. What next? Too afraid to leave their home?

Allowing them to get away with it will do nothing but allow them to take it even further next time because why not, when they don't have to suffer the consequences?

SoupDragon Mon 22-Apr-13 12:35:15

What would your first port-of-call be then Gruffalo?

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 12:36:46

How the hell are the police going to find time to track down, identify and speak to 12 kids who will only deny all knowledge anyway? confused

Badvoc Mon 22-Apr-13 12:37:11


Snoopingforsoup Mon 22-Apr-13 12:38:00

Gruffalo, MN wasn't the first point of call. The Police were called at the time of the incident. She's posting here because she's frustrated she's been told this will not go any further.
Most Mother's would be livid if someone had abused their family like that! I would be.

Callisto Mon 22-Apr-13 12:38:45

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mrscog Mon 22-Apr-13 12:39:13

Sounds awful - doesn't really matter who is committing the crime, but if the police are not taking something like this seriously then you do need to take your complaints higher up the police force.

To actually phone someone and do something about it, like get in touch with the station or phone the IPCC. I'd also be asking why, despite not actually seeing or speaking to any of the children involved, the automatic assumption is that they're traveler's children.

My paternal grandfather was a Roma traveler, not a thief, not violent, not misogynistic, neither are my Roma family or me for that matter. So I'm going to hide this thread, since I can already see the massive generalizations and bigotry starting.

Dahlen Mon 22-Apr-13 12:39:44

Worra - the police spend a lot of time tracking down people and dealing with cases that they know will go precisely nowhere. It's part of the job. Doesn't mean it's ok to decide not to do it even though it's a complete waste of time. This is the age of accountability. Work has to be seen to be done more than the result matters.

lardybum Mon 22-Apr-13 12:41:17

So what do you suggest Worra? Just leave them to it to harass, intimidate, attack, threaten anyone who dares go near them?

Of course the police should find the time to do something about this before someone gets seriously injured. It could be a child who they decide to pick on next, or an elderly person. It isn't on at all.

CelticPixie Mon 22-Apr-13 12:41:36

Regarding the police being scared. Years ago I knew someone who worked in a Catholic school where there area lot of traveller kids in attendance (when they can be bothered turning up). This person told me that the police cannot just turn up at traveller site without a warrant like they would at someone home. Not sure of the ins and outs of why though? But the site near my parents would get busted every few months or so, and I mean properly busted with the helicopter out, vans, police dogs, several cars etc. It's almost like it has to be planed with military decision.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:41:52

I've googled and found my Local Police Commissioner, and tracked down his email address. Have written him a lengthy email, so I'll await his response. I've also spoken to DH and urged him to see the duty inspector today to make an official complaint. He doesn't want to complain against the officers, but I've asked him to report the incident yesterday.

He has a job near the city centre today, so no backing out.

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 12:42:28

Dahlen the Police are massively over stretched.

I could see them trying to track them down if they'd actually stolen the bikes...but not for intimidation and stone throwing where there's absolutely no proof it happened.

However, I still don't believe for a minute the Police said that about the travellers etc...

Heinz55 Mon 22-Apr-13 12:42:28

Similar incident happened to my DH and DD - except one of the group was carrying a chainsaw shock and DD knew some of these kids from school. She didn't know what a traveller was before that incident - she does now. Fortunately we've since met some decent ones so hopefully she's got a balanced view that one group cannot be tarred with the same brush. In their case the group were just trying to intimidate (I think) but also tried to pull their bikes from them. We didn't even bother with the police but I would think in your case the broken glass makes it a more vicious attack rather than my DH and DD's which was their version of a bit of fun (I'm sure). My DD was very upset for a while and remains nervous of coming across any traveller kids when on her own but has more or less forgotten that particular incident, I hope you get some satisfaction from the police. Keep us updated.

MiaowTheCat Mon 22-Apr-13 12:42:32

I believe the incident could have happened... I believe the police may have been somewhat unmotivated in investigating it... I don't believe they'd be daft enough to say that they were going to do fuck all to your face though.

DontSHOUTTTTTT Mon 22-Apr-13 12:42:35

I used to have to visit traveller camps in an enforcement role. As a young women I was seen as less likely to have any problems than one of my older male colleagues. confused

Does your local authority have a traveller liaison officer? (Or similar)

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:43:36

Gruffalo, you're entitled to think that.
MN is a source of support and I glean a lot of information from here.

I had this when my dog got stolen. A neighbour had seen the van, knew exactly whose it was, it was a traveller from a nearby site, the police refused to go and look, we suggested if we found him there would they come with us to get him, they said no.

OP please don't let it drop, go through all the proper channels and keep yourself and your family safe first and foremost, but something needs to be done before they throw stones at another child and something worse happens. Good luck.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:45:16

Worra, that's exactly what DH has just said to me. I feel too angry to let his go, though. So don't know what else to do.

CelticPixie Mon 22-Apr-13 12:46:49

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WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 12:46:59

Are they legally camped?

If not, are the council trying to evict?

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 12:47:26

I am sorry your family had this experience - sounds scary. You must follow this up with the police and complain if they do not pursue this.

However, I am disgusted with your thread title. If a bunch of black kids or obviously poor-working-class-white kids attacked you, would you bring their ethnicity or culture into it?

Think before you post things like this. Not all children from the Traveller community behave this way. The stereotype is unbelievably unfair and prejudice. Shame on you.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:47:53

Gruffalo, sorry - perhaps it's best that you do hide this. It's not meant to cause you any offence at all. Really it isn't. But I've been hurt by DD being so shaken by this and want to do something.

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 12:48:38

Also, stop talking about 'a traveller'...would you say 'a black' or 'a Jew'.

Honestly - its 2013.

quoteunquote Mon 22-Apr-13 12:49:58

relentless persistance,

Be calm, state the facts,

This happened,

the police response is was this,

What should happen,

what is their policy on dealing with the situation,

When do they intend for the area to be made safe?

Why are they unable for the situation to be made safe?

Do they intend to tackle the problem, has there been any other incidents?

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 12:50:25

They are travellers so why not talk about 'travellers'?

They call themselves travellers so why shouldn't the OP?

And why is my spellcheck telling me I'm spelling travellers wrong?

LST Mon 22-Apr-13 12:50:26

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For those that disbelieve the officers statement I recently had about £20,000 worth of jewellery stolen and the investigating officer as good as said well there is the gypsy camp down the road.... shock

manicinsomniac Mon 22-Apr-13 12:51:21

I think you're right to take it further but just be a bit careful - your OP says that the police said the children were 'most likely' from the traveller site. So they may not have been, they could have been a gang of unpleasant children from anywhere. I would be cautious of assuming the children were travellers in your complaints but would just stress that your child has been intimidated and physically injured by local children up to twice her age and you arent' happy with it just being dismissed.

If you went to the papers etc complaining about travellers when you have no proof that they were you will end up looking like a bigot.

Footface Mon 22-Apr-13 12:51:25

Where about are you op?

The glass was obviously put there to cause this. You should name the area to stop it happening to others.

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 12:51:52

Know many people from the Travelling Community, do you?

If you cannot see how revolting some of the attitudes on this thread are - shame on you, too.

Reported this thread.

LST Mon 22-Apr-13 12:53:06

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LST Mon 22-Apr-13 12:54:04

and yes I know plenty.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:55:11

Genuine apologies amessagetoyouYoni.
I'm raging for DD and didn't consider the title. No 'shame on you' though, thanks.
FWIW, I've never come across Traveller Communities and have had no prejudices or negative thoughts until now.

I'll get title re-worded. Clearly, the whole subject is divisive though. I just want a course of action, and I'll follow that course.

EldritchCleavage Mon 22-Apr-13 12:56:27

The OP has not said that the people she has only described as 'a group of youngsters' actually were travellers has she? Only that the police officer claimed they were, and on that basis declined to take any action.

That's the basis of her complaint, and it seems a reasonable one. The officer should not be stereotyping and scapegoating kids he hasn't even investigated, nor refusing to take action on a can't be arsed/daren't basis.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 12:57:27

I live in Swansea. The cycle track is the one that runs from East Swansea valley to the city centre, past the Liberty Stadium where the Swans play. There is a track number, I'll google it now.

Glass was placed just outside of a fairly industrious area called Llansamlet.

OrlaKiely Mon 22-Apr-13 12:58:00

What are you supposed to say instead of traveller? Genuine question.

I totally believe this fwiw. We had a household appliance stolen from by our front door - a very large one - and the police said they knew who it was, (people from the site) but by now it would have been sold for scrap so they weren't going to do anything.

I didn't pursue it at the time but now it makes perfect sense.

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Callisto Mon 22-Apr-13 12:58:50

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CelticPixie Mon 22-Apr-13 12:59:34

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WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 13:01:04

Well for the last 18 years I've had the misfortune to come across travellers camping their vans illegally on the football pitch in my local park. As soon as they're evicted, they'll spring up at the nature reserve and (I kid you not) the local graveyard.

Add to that, the mess and misery this illegal activity causes (not to mention the local supermarket having to draft in extra security guards due to the rise in shoplifting) and I'd say it's no wonder they're not welcome here.

If anyone thinks descending on communities and acting illegally is ok, I'll think you're bonkers.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 13:02:09

Not East! It's North of the coast.
Just checked on the National Cycle Route network - the track is huge and runs all the way from a town called Ystylafera to the coast. I think it's route no. 46.

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 13:02:56

Oh and then there's the dog fighting and ripping off of vulnerable people in my area, for thousands of pounds.

Dahlen Mon 22-Apr-13 13:06:31

Travellers are not a homogenous group anymore than users of MN are. Although a similar lifestyle is shared, there is huge variation among the travelling community, just as there are in settled communities.

Unfortunately, it only takes a small minority of hardcore anti-social criminals to spoil things for everyone. Twas always thus in any community.

TheDeadlyDonkey Mon 22-Apr-13 13:07:21

I totally believe this.
At the moment, there are travellers parked illegally at an industrial estate nearby, as they do every year. The police and council refuse to do a thing about it (as happens every year), there are no public loos, so they use the hedges around the car park.
The clean up every year after they've been is over £1 million.

Another local town has travellers staying every year (I think both are en route to Appelby). For the month that they stay, crime (usually fairly non-existent) goes up to stupid levels. Anything that isn't locked away disappears. Although police presence is overwhelming during that month, they don't get involved confused

manicinsomniac Mon 22-Apr-13 13:08:26

Hmmm, I've actively taught my children to say traveller, I thought it was correct confused. If they say gypsy then I tell them off (unless the person they were referring to was Romany I guess but I've never met any that were).

Reagrdless, I think that most people (including most travellers) are lovely people but this group of boys, whoever they were, are clearly not being brought up to be lovely and need dealing with!

Callisto Mon 22-Apr-13 13:08:28

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ubik Mon 22-Apr-13 13:09:23

I'm sorry this happened to your DD op.

But I am not sure what the police can do. If the encampment is illegal they are maybe waiting on eviction notices. Good idea to speak to someone in charge to find out what is actually going on - local paper will prob be interested in story - you could mention that to police.

TheDeadlyDonkey Mon 22-Apr-13 13:09:46

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CelticPixie Mon 22-Apr-13 13:11:37

Some more anecdotes.

We had a neighbour who used to keep and breed ferrets and pole cats as a hobby. He sold some to a traveller once who then cam back and stole the rest.

There is a nursery near by. Traveller kids were seen one weekend stealing a slide and seesaw from the outdoor part. Police weren't not interested then either.

bionic77 Mon 22-Apr-13 13:13:13

I'm appalled at the racial hatred on this thread. Some of the comments are inciting racial hatred which is a criminal offence. Replace the word gypsy/traveller with any other ethnic group - would this be acceptable?

The examples given are anecdotal and can not be said to be representative of a whole racial group.

Snoopingforsoup Mon 22-Apr-13 13:13:35

amessagetoyouYoni, What is the preferred name for gypsies these days? I'm genuinely interested to know because it changes a lot and in the interest of staying on the right side of decent - do enlighten us. These people were once gypsies by their own definition. And they call non-gypsies Gorgios. I'm not offended by that, are you?
I don't believe the facts above are based on stereotype. The facts above show their way of life and actually, when they are harassing people it's unfair that they can get away with it.
Look on AIBU today, and there's a thread where the Police are making a woman apologise over a parking spat with a teen. If the Police are prepared to follow up that complaint, why not one where attempted theft and violence against a child are reported? It doesn't take much to get annoyed at the injustice - we are all human.

Orwellian Mon 22-Apr-13 13:15:02

Perhaps the government should give the gypsies some more protection money as they are obviously being oppressed by the police and having their rights abused by middle class cyclists.

delboysfileofax Mon 22-Apr-13 13:16:51

Yay, I love these sort of threads on mumsnet! A chance for all the right-on posters to prove just how much more progressive and politically correct they are than the majority. When in reality they would be spitting feathers if they were ever put in the same situation! smile

EldritchCleavage Mon 22-Apr-13 13:16:53

Why are some people encouraging OP to join the police officer in his prejudiced assumption that the gang were traveller kids? She doesn't know if they were, and neither did he. It's not even the relevant aspect of this.

Whoever they were, they did something quite serious to her DH and DD and the officers who were told about it seemingly can't be bothered to take it up, and on a pretty unattractive basis. There is absolutely no need for OP to join him in his rather ugly racial bias.

BumPotato Mon 22-Apr-13 13:17:06

Recently my aggressive neighbour shouted a swearword at me in the street. He did not throw any rocks or chase me. Neighbour didn't realise someone else witnessed this. The witness called the police and the police dealt with it. They said they had enough evidence to charge him. I can't remember the charge, it is the new Breach of the Peace. In the end they gave him what they called a "Police Warning" which I think is the new version of a caution.

I simply cannot believe the police would not follow your incident up.

There was a police officer on another thread the other day who said all incidents must be followed up, however trivial. Not that I'm saying your incident, if it happened as written is trivial, far from it.

Dahlen Mon 22-Apr-13 13:17:15

I probably have an unusual perspective into travelling communities. Many years ago in my youth I used to attend events where I met many of them regularly. Although I never developed any friendships I did get to know them and gained an insight into their lifestyle. They're just people, like you and me. Some are nice, some are not. Some break the law and have an overwhelming sense of entitlement about their lifestyle, others try to keep their heads down, avoid alienating the locals, and work to increase the number of sites they can access and the facilities on them.

As a more mature person with a very different role now, these days I tend to encounter the less savoury side involving petty thefts, littering, drug use and violence. There are reasons why these activities are associated with the travelling community, but it would be a (bigoted) mistake to assume that all those within the travelling community are carrying out those activities. I have never lost sight of the fact that I am dealing with people first. Their cultural background is very much a secondary thing.

Callisto Mon 22-Apr-13 13:17:25

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HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 13:18:13

Thanks everyone, I didn't start this thread to provoke or upset. I genuinely see MN as a huge source of info and advice, and needed some feedback about this.

Again, quoteunquote, thank you. You've brought more focus to my line of thought. I wouldn't have thought of those kinds of questions.

bionic77 Mon 22-Apr-13 13:20:48

Can't see any racial hatred? Are you a complete bigot?

forevergreek Mon 22-Apr-13 13:22:02

I know many gypsies in Romania. As in proper Roma gypsies. They call themselves gypsies or travellers, Iv never heard any other name and they don't seem offended with their own name for describing themselves. Very odd.

Dahlen Mon 22-Apr-13 13:25:04

It's not the name, it's the context in which it's used.

Say I had a friend who was black. If I was asked to describe him, I might use the adjective black. If I was to refer to him as "the black" however, that would be highly offensive.

CelticPixie Mon 22-Apr-13 13:26:58

Bionic don't try and get all PC about it. There are plenty of people who have shared their negative experiences of travellers. It's unfortunate that my experiences of the community have been overwhelmingly negative, I'd love to be proven wrong but the ones that live near my parents have made people's lives a misery for many years.

beepbeep Mon 22-Apr-13 13:27:24

Travellers and gypsies (not necessarily the same thing but often overlap) use these terms to describe themselves.

Did you DH say he could identify any of the youths? If he couldn't then how would you like the Police to progress this?? Speak to every child in the neighbourhood who vaguely fits the description?

I appreciate it's not a nice thing, particularly with the stone throwing and glass, but the Police are very limited with regards to what they can do to move these groups on, and usually, as it is more of a council issue, your local council will have a 'traveller liaison officer' - it would be worth speaking to them about your concerns. Also about getting the glass cleared up, as this would also be a Council issue (though they should be cleaning it up themselves!)

Hope your DD & DH are ok.

Snoopingforsoup Mon 22-Apr-13 13:27:35

HexBramble, if it's any consolation, we had an attempted burglary a few months ago, and though they got through the door, nothing was taken (disturbed, we were asleep) and thus, the crime would not be taken any further. The Police still came out to see us, give us advice, forensics took prints etc.
Not investigating crime such as this (where there was thankfully a lucky escape), is held on the national database but it won't be followed through to a conclusion! If there are repeated attempts in the same area, they will see it and they will have to do something about it. There just aren't the resources for anything more. You've done the right thing in alerting people here to your area though so they know not to use the same track. May be worth telling the local press, I'm sure it will have happened to others.

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 13:28:00

Replace the word gypsy/traveller with any other ethnic group - would this be acceptable?

If they descended upon my community, camped illegally in parks/graveyard and made the crime rate in my area shoot up, I would still want them to fuck off.

Their ethnic group wouldn't make any difference to me, though I would have no worries about revealing what it was should someone ask.

TuppenceBeresford Mon 22-Apr-13 13:31:21

Celtic Pixie, you said "they are scum".

If you had said "the ones I've had dealings with are scum", it would still have been an unpleasant choice of words but it wouldn't have been bigotted. Do you not see the difference?

bionic77 Mon 22-Apr-13 13:35:09

How can a whole racial group be lumped together as being a bad lot? In all parts of society as Dahlen has said there is good and bad? I fail to see how it is ok to say this particular group are all bad? That is not being PC it is reasonable.

Why do some travellers camp illegally? Is it not because local authorities have failed to set aside land for traveller encampments which is their statutory responsibility to do so? Most travellers will accept the most awful pieces of land to live on in order to not camp illegally. The cost of setting aside this land would be far lower than cleaning up after illegal encampments, and subsequent evictions.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 13:37:01

DH says he could identify 3 of the boys, the rest were just a blur.
Their accents as a group were not local, and by that I mean, not even close to being local. We live just 6 miles from the coast and in that 10 minute journey, the local accents and colloquialisms (sp?) change about 3 times.
These kids accents weren't similar at all.

OrlaKiely Mon 22-Apr-13 13:37:21

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Mehrida Mon 22-Apr-13 13:38:40

I believe you. I had the same thing happen to me when I was about 12. Fortunately they grossly underestimated how quick we could move on our bikes but we got a few dunts from the stones they chucked.

My DF was in the police at the time and 'made a few equiries' but ultimately they could do nothing.

Sorry to see that times haven't changed.

Hope your dd gets back on her bike soon.

CelticPixie Mon 22-Apr-13 13:40:58

Tuppence, I though it would have been obvious that I meant the ones I had met? But then look at others posts on here. I am not the only person to have experienced their anti social behaviour and that is because it is endemic in their community.The reason for this is because the police don't clamp down on them like they would anyone else. They are rarely brought to account for their wrongs.

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 13:41:34

There are traveller camps in my area but they have to pay to use them

So no I don't agree that 'most travellers would accept somewhere legal to camp'.

ubik Mon 22-Apr-13 13:43:05

I think it's a comfortable position to dismiss comments about behaviour by travellers as 'bigoted' because it means you don't have to think about issues anymore and can feel good about yourself as you are sure you are not a 'bigot.'

Yet there are issues and anyone who has had an illegal encampment nearby can tell you about them - we had horses left in a field which was nt secure, horses got out of field and were found wandering busy roads shock

I think it's wrong of the police to not attempt to talk to the travellers, get a look at conditions, what the kids are doing etc. Traveller life expectancy is very low, it's a tough life particularly for young women taken out of school to care for siblings, married very young

fromparistoberlin Mon 22-Apr-13 13:43:41


unfortunately stating the ethnic group in the OP is going to enflame

but, get off the thread and keep reporting this < to the police I mean

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 13:44:00

LunaticFringe, yes, that's the problem. DH is insisting that it's left as it is and be 'thankful' hmm, that said, it appears that as a tradesman, he and some of his friends have had some run ins that I knew nothing about, until now. He can only identify 3 of them, they're mostly minors (he thinks) and we know that there is going to be resentment in our assumption that they're Traveller Children (and I'm really sorry to cause offence at this term, but how else can I put it?).

Fact: My DD got hurt and shook up. Yes, it could have been so much worse, but had they been local kids, then I would be pounding pavements and knocking on doors to appeal to their parents. But they aren't local, and my options are limited. Yes, I'm doing the things that have been suggested, but I'm not holding my breathe for any outcome either.

I'm thankful that DD and DH are ok. Frustrated, yes. I'm frustrated to.

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 13:46:06

What Dahlen said. Its not using the word 'trVekkers' to descrbe a community that is is saying. 'a traveller threw a rock at me' etc.

A black threw a rock at me
A Jew threw a rock at me


Can you not see?

I have worked extensively with members of the Travelling community. It is a minority of the community that behave in this criminal manner. The majority are just normal people, living their lives.

Prejudice is incredibly ugly and ignorant, no matter who it is levelled at.

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 13:46:20

Travellers, sorry

RealityQuake Mon 22-Apr-13 13:46:44

The proper term depends on which group we're talking about - are we talking Roma, Sinte, Calo, Calon, Irish Travellers, Scottish Travellers, Romanichal...

The word "gypsy" is a slur that is being reclaimed by some but does not and has never originated from any of the groups above. It was a label given by others to denote foreignness (rooted in the word Egyptian). It's a word and label that has been used to enslave and eradicate several groups' humanity and used as a term to promote genocide. It really shouldn't be used by people outside of these groups trying to reclaim it and its official and media usage is still being protested. Some are trying to reclaim it with pride though most working within and with other communities these days will specify which group (as I listed above) as part of action to help create more human and less homogeneous picture and to stop people within the groups having to use what to many is a painful term because using their actual term is met with a lot of confused. I have a Roma friend who is an academic (yes, one with a proper job, who pays plenty of tax, and is very nice) and the label issue is a problematic, getting recognition and respect almost impossible (even with a practically perfect record, she has many within the academic circles who think a "woman like her" isn't suitable for working).

Putting several groups with slight similarities together, and reducing their humanity and othering them to 'they' do this and 'they' do that is always going to be rooted in bigotry, as is the assumption that if something goes wrong it has to be them because they live close. We've had issues of local kids caught doing something claiming to be from an Irish traveller site to get out of trouble because of these stereotypes that they are above the law, and thankfully have been pulled up on it.

OP - if the police are not taking what happened seriously, go higher up, regardless of who they are or who the police think they are.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 13:51:41

I've taken everything on board that you've all said.

Thank you.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 13:52:08

Posted too soon, have reported my title to MN.

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 13:56:39

OP, well done for being reasonable and open to opinions.

I do hope the police will look in to this for you. It isnt acceptable, and your children must have been terrified.

YoniMaroney Mon 22-Apr-13 14:00:09

Basically the kids are too young to touch, and unfortunately not much can be done.

PrincessFiorimonde Mon 22-Apr-13 14:00:21

Well, if we're dealing in anecdotes - it was a member of the travelling community who came to the aid of my dad and me when I ran the car in to a fence.

So obviously I think that all travelling people are lovely.

Or would that be just as daft as thinking that all travelling people are dirty and criminal?

(not you, OP)

toffeelolly Mon 22-Apr-13 14:17:59

What a disgrace, the police cannot or will not do anything. if it were my dd i would not let this matter rest.

RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Apr-13 14:20:13

Hi all,

Many thanks for the reports about this thread.

We will be editing the thread title at the OP's request to stop it looking like a deliberately inflammatory title, as this was not the intention.

We have no problem with this thread but we would like to remind you of our Talk guidelines and, specifically, that we will delete any hatefully negative generalisations about travellers (or any other distinct racial or cultural group).

Please do continue to report.

IneedAsockamnesty Mon 22-Apr-13 14:24:30

Good idea to send your email.

Fwiw I have an ex who was a bit of a dishonest type his friends and him would often do things like scrap stealing ect but they would talk loudly using accents and words attributed to travellers and make out they were.

This is despite the fact that not one of them has any Roma ( or any other type) in their families the closest my ex got to having travelling relatives was a great granddad who travelled a bit because he was in the Air Force.

Snazzynewyear Mon 22-Apr-13 14:29:46

I think it's helpful that the thread title has now been edited and I think the OP has stated repeatedly that she didn't mean any offence - plus, as has been pointed out, her own description of event refers only to 'kids'; it's the police who introduce the notion of them being travellers. The key issue here is that they're behaving anti-socially and that shouldn't just be ignored by the police, and that applies regardless of their ethnic status. Any gang of youngsters behaving this way need a talking to at the very least. So I think OP is right to pursue the inadequate police response. That doesn't necessitate a load of criticism of travellers in general.

Plomino Mon 22-Apr-13 14:38:42

Hex , did you say you were going to speak again to the police ? It really might be worth your while . If not the Duty Officer , try the Safer Neighbourhoods inspector . What have you to lose ? Although its entirely true that police officers do get followed home ( happened to several of my colleagues , and I got told once that my registration number had been found on a list of officers personal vehicle registrations found during the course of an investigation) this really shouldn't make any difference as to why an offence should go uninvestigated . Did they actually take all your details for a crime report ? If they did , then ring the crime management unit and find out what's going on .

We do have a fair amount of issues with SOME people from the travelling community . They use each other's names , addresses , driving licences ( if they have them) . Some of them are exceptionally abusive and violent . Exactly the same as SOME members of the rest of society . But there are also a large number of people within the community who are law abiding , actually pay taxes , and have a very keen sense of right and wrong . Including some members of my own family , and their neighbours , who ran my cousins husband off the site when he beat my cousin black and blue . And then called police .

BabyRuSh Mon 22-Apr-13 14:44:42

How do you know someone is a traveller just from meeting them?? I've come across a few women in my line of work, and most of the time I can't tell unless I know her address or I have to meet the family (then its obvious as it is literally a clan of relatives who will come for a chat). They are just people and I agree they are being lumped together unfairly. I also agree with what a pp said about it being safer for her to go to a camp instead of men- I seem to get the impression that the traveller community have a grudge to bear against the white middle class community and they are more likely to be difficult or argumentative when dealing with someone like that compared to someone like me (female and ethnic minority). Anyway I'm sorry op that your dd encountered this group of antisocial lads and I'm glad she's ok. But I don't think the fact they are travellers has much to do with it- I've encountered groups of antisocial black, white lads and Asian lads before.

manicinsomniac Mon 22-Apr-13 14:57:35

Yoni - I'm not sure your explanation as to why 'a traveller' is an offensive term works well tbh. Travellers are not an ethnicity, in the same way as Black or Jewish people are (I don't think? If they are then I apologise). So your analogy here:

*What Dahlen said. Its not using the word 'trVekkers' to descrbe a community that is is saying. 'a traveller threw a rock at me' etc.

A black threw a rock at me
A Jew threw a rock at me


Can you not see?*

doesn't work. Saying 'a traveller' threw a rock at me is more like saying:
A Londoner threw a rock at me
A Northerner threw a rock at me

Which is still a stereotype I suppose but it's not as bad. I think it's unfair to imply that people are being racist by using the term 'a traveller'.

Your analogy would work perfectly for 'a gypsy' - which is why most decent people wouldn't say it and would substitute 'a traveller' instead.

KitchenandJumble Mon 22-Apr-13 15:15:43

Oh, lovely. Yet another thread in which people make bigoted judgments about an entire community.

At least the thread title was edited. I suppose that's something. But I doubt it will stop the bigotry.

The police officers assumed these children belong to a particular group. They don't know that. If they are truly unwilling to investigate this incident, I would certainly take some of the steps suggested by others on this thread. The police should investigate. But neither they nor anyone else should use this incident to make sweeping statements about an entire community. FFS.

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 15:17:41

I have worked extensively with members of the Travelling community. It is a minority of the community that behave in this criminal manner. The majority are just normal people, living their lives.

Right well then it's a minority that we've had arriving here, around 8 times per year for the last 18 years.

And that minority regularly break the law when they arrive here and camp in our park and graveyards.

I've never had the pleasure of meeting the law abiding majority during those 18 years.

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 15:20:24

Plomino - sorry, only now seeing your post.
I've urged DH to call into see the Duty Inspector on his way home from his job today (he's close by the Central Station working today). I was sorely tempted but since I wasn't there, and DH was, I thought it appropriate for him to call and leave a statement. I imagine if I were to call, they'd only want to speak to DH since he's the only adult witness that was with DD. He really, really doesn't want to push any complaint towards the police officers involved but I feel really strongly that this shouldn't be left.
I've had a couple of emails off this thread urging me to be cautious. I must admit that I'm slightly worried hmm

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 16:08:58

Yes, travellers ARE classified legally as an ethnic minority in the UK.

Look it up.

amessagetoyouYoni Mon 22-Apr-13 16:09:51

perhaps you need to get out more@worra

manicinsomniac Mon 22-Apr-13 16:22:48

Ok fair enough, sorry. Only for a year and a half though, according to WIki so I think people will need some time to realise. I certainly didn't know and I know quite a few travellers socially. I often refer to them as Traveller friends (in the same way that I'd say London friends or uni friends) but I would never dream of saying black friends etc. So I'll have to stop doing that.

Ignorance not racism then, I suggest. I doubt it's all that well known.

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Apr-13 19:16:52

amessage In the 18 years my whole community has suffered from the illegal actions of the travellers, we have all got out plenty thank you.

Why do you seem to have a problem accepting that communities get pissed off when descended upon by people clearly breaking the law?

sunshine401 Mon 22-Apr-13 19:29:33

sad It is horrible, but unfortunately very very true. Police never want to get involved in this kind of situation. Ridiculous I know!! angry

Primrose123 Mon 22-Apr-13 19:46:42

OP can you tell us exactly where it happened? We were on this cycle track a few days ago. We walked from Ystalafera to Pontardawe. We passed lots of people on the track and commented on how friendly they all were. I don't feel like going back now. sad

HexBramble Mon 22-Apr-13 21:18:06

Primrose, you're right. That walk is beautiful and runs along the canal bank for a few miles, doesn't it? Have you walked further down to the next two villages? Again, right alongside the canal bank, and get's even prettier. You have no worries this side of the walk. It's the route that continues a few miles beyond that where this happened. Closer to Morriston, and closer to where it runs past the river bank and the A4067.

You shouldn't be concerned on the walk where you were - it's beautiful and gets more walker/cyclist/runner traffic. I jog alongside that canal bank stretch sometimes and have no worries there.

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