Friday, September 3, 2010




Friday, 3 September 2010 06:18 UK

By Anthony Baxter

Reports of violent gang attacks are spreading fear in some of Britain's traveller communities.

They include claims of groups of around 20 Polish and Irish men, all armed, attacking travellers, as well as stories of children being abducted and held hostage in return for money and jewellery.

While filming a group of Roma gypsies for a documentary, BBC Two's Revealed Extra I had rare access to young people living in the communities.

I witnessed panic after hearing terrifying accounts of attacks on travellers and gypsies.

Megan, a Roma gypsy from near Cambridge, said she knew some of the alleged victims.

Continue reading the main story Some relations we know, it's happened to them. It's really bad.

Megan, Roma gypsy: "The stories have been passed around. We've heard about it, and some relations we know, it's happened to them. It's really bad."

Megan and her family have now moved from the site they've lived on for the last two years because of the fear of being attacked.

She explained: "Apparently there are a couple of gangs going round targeting traveller families and taking all their possessions.

"I've never known it to happen in my lifetime, it's very shocking."

Another traveller, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she'd heard of two separate cases of children being sexually assaulted - one of them supposedly in Luton.

Facebook 'warnings'

The community has been informing each other about the attacks through social networking sites.

The creator of a Facebook group set up to warn travellers said she knew a family who were badly beaten after handing over money and jewellery.

"I know for a fact it was done just over four weeks ago," she wrote.

"The robbers even made their 14-year-old grandson watch as they beat his grandparents."

Pea, 19, lives on a site near Bedford. He questions just how much of what he's heard is true, but says he does believe the attacks are happening.

"I've heard there are a lot of bad people going around taking things they shouldn't, doing things they shouldn't."

The police are warning travellers to be vigilant, but say so far they've received no evidence to support any of the claims, and nobody has come forward to report any crimes.

The Gypsy Council said it was aware of the rumours, but hadn't heard of anything first-hand.

It wants travellers who have been attacked to come forward.

However, Pea told Revealed Extra that contacting the authorities wasn't the done thing in their communities.

"It's going to be over pretty soon," he said.

"They're going to walk into the wrong camp. I think they're going to sort it out their own way... whatever that is I don't know."

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