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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?

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.

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

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

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?

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.

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

perhaps you need to get out more@worra

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

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

Look it up.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 .

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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

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

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.

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

Posted too soon, have reported my title to MN.

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

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

Thank you.

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.

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

Travellers, sorry

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.

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