Friday, February 26, 2010
ROMA/SINTI IN ENGLAND
The following is an open letter written by a member of the United Kingdom Association of Gypsy Women. I am so impressed by the tireless work they do. They have been a leading voice against the relocation of Roma to the toxic lead mines in Kosovo and they never stop addressing the overwhelming issues faced by Roma and Travellers in England.
I salute these women.
AN OPEN LETTER TO DAVID STRANG
CHIEF CONSTABLE OF LOTHIAN & BORDERS POLICE.
It is with regret that we find ourselves once again having to write to you in regard to the long standing and ongoing harassment by your officers toward the Stewart family.
at Gorebridge. Despite our best efforts to resolve this situation via consultation with yourself, senior officers and the Fiscal office the family still suffer from relentless harassment.
At 9.30 this morning this family that includes young children one of whom is only 2 months old were subjected to a drugs raid. We have been involved with the family for several years and we have never seen any evidence nor had any reason to suspect that the family has any dealings at all with drugs. In our efforts to support the family we have regular contact with Educationalists and Social workers none of whom have ever raised in meetings or in private that there is any suspicion of activity with drugs on any level.
The Stewart family was told that “a complaint” was made that they were dealing in drugs. We make formal request for a copy of the warrant raised and details any evidence your officers had that gave rise to the raising of the warrant. We have in the past furnished you with a copy of an authority from both Pauline Mitchell and Paddy Stewart, a copy of the same is available if required.
No drugs were found at the Stewarts address.
As an Association that deals regularly with cases of harassment against Gypsies and Travellers over many years, I am obliged to inform you that this is the worst case we have ever encountered.
We are disappointed that having placed faith in you and approached you personally in a letter dated 29th September 2009. This letter was addressed for your attention and was sent via email Fax and Royal Mail but failed to generate the courtesy of a reply.
In October 2009 while in Edinburgh we spoke to the Stewarts Social Worker who confirmed that she had witnessed the harassment for herself while making a home visit to the Stewarts, officers called at the house for no apparent or stated reason,
when they saw the Social Worker sitting in the house they decided against the unnecessary call and left. As a result of what she witnessed the Social worker advised the family to make note of any further visits, to request log numbers for any alleged complaint against the family and to take officers collar numbers. This was advice that we echoed.
In the past one of our representatives attended a multi agency meeting held in regard to the Stewarts. An officer from your force cited a large number of calls that had been made to the police in relation to the Stewarts. On face value this showed the family in a very poor light, however when challenged the officer was forced to admit that the bulk of the calls we in fact calls made by the Stewarts requesting assistance because they were being threatened and intimidated by local residents! Needless to say they failed to receive the assistance they had requested.
The Stewart family live in difficult circumstances with totally inadequate housing, although there have been suitable properties identified that would be ideal for their needs they reside with their children in a porta cabin and pay the council £850.00 a month for the privilege. Life is stressful enough for the family, both Pauline Mitchell and Paddy Stewart are caring and conscientious parents doing their best to bring their children up to be good citizens, two of the children have special educational needs and it is very damaging indeed for them to be exposed to the high levels of fear that this constant harassment causes.
We request once more that you now as Chief Constable take responsibility for the actions of the officers under your command and put a stop to this immediately.
Posted by Morgan at 6:55 PM