Romani Studies

Peripheral inclusion? Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association officers speak out

Romani Studies (2022), 32, (1), 105–127.

Abstract

This research article concerns the experiences of 15 members of the Gypsy Roma Traveller Police Association (GRTPA). Following contact via snowball research methods these members - 12 of whom are regular police officers, the remaining three comprising of a retired officer, a civilian member of staff and a police community support officer (PCSO) - agreed to take part in semi-structured interviews. The majority claimed Gypsy, Roma, or Traveller (GRT) heritage, and, set against a conceptual framework concerning anti-gypsyism, the way in which these members are subjected to what is regarded here as “peripheral inclusion” becomes evident as concerns are raised within this article as to the conduct of some police officers towards both GRTPA members and the wider GRT communities. This is framed against a background of three specific topics raised as cause for concern by participants within the initial focus group: policing by consent, the policing of Traveller sites, and the impact of racism on GRTPA members claiming GRT ethnicity. Overall, the key findings indicate that anti-gypsyism impacts relationships between some police and GRTs, that the community appears not to be policed by consent, and that GRTs are commonly viewed as criminal by some police making it difficult for many GRT officers to raise their voices and claim an ethnic status that has been so discredited. Thus a recommendation is for trainee officers to be schooled to appreciate the importance of incorporating cultural competency into the workplace and meaningfully respect diversity in all its forms.

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Drummond, Anthony