Recently the Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce met with the local business community, Members of Parliament Jon Cruddas for Dagenham and Rainham, and Mike Gapes for Ilford South, and representatives from the Metropolitan Police and councils covering the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, and Havering. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a cross border, tri-borough approach to the growing issue of unlawful encampments in the respective areas.
The meeting which was formulated around creating a multi-agency cross border team with the authority, working with police elements to move members of the travelling community on before any damage can be extended to private, public or commercial land through prolific fly tipping.
It is important to note that the issue is not one with the travelling community, but with a criminal element operating within the traveller community. The unlawful encampments have collectively resulted in millions of pounds being expended by the council and the business community, both through clearing the resultant fly-tipped rubbish, and through preventative security provision.
It has been highlighted by the police that this is not the typical behaviour of travelling communities, and is by association causing a large amount of xenophobia towards this minority. That is why it is important that we commit to a London-wide solution to crack down on the individuals that are operating within the travelling community for profit through illegal mass fly-tipping.
The criminal element are profiteering to the detriment of already strained local authorities which are having to foot the bill for clearance, and the redirection of services which is by default having a negative impact on council's ability to deliver other vital services to residents.
This is not exclusive to East London, this is a growing issue. Will the Mayor of London commit to working with local authorities, and the Metropolitan Police to deliver a long term strategy to deter unlawful encampments which does not involve simply moving criminal activity from borough to borough?