Crime and anti-social behaviour at The Stables and Greenacre Gypsy and Traveller sites, Billington
Bedfordshire and Thames Valley Police forces have been able to track significant volumes of crimes to the sites and reports of anti-social behaviour continue to be a concern.
Neighbouring farms have, for many years, experienced fly-tipping and fires. This has damaged the land and farm machinery. The site has also encroached on farm land by extending plot sizes onto otherwise productive land.
There are also very serious safeguarding concerns about the sites. There have been three police operations involving arrests in relation to modern day slavery.
In 2011, 24 vulnerable people were identified as being kept on the site through coercion, intimidation and abuse. In July 2012, four members of a family living on-site were found guilty of keeping workers in a state of servitude and forcing them to perform unpaid work. Despite arrests being made, slavery continued and further operations were held in 2014 (7 people rescued) and again in 2015 with further arrests made.
Whilst the health, safety and wellbeing of those on the sites is a primary concern, we also recognise the impact on the law-abiding residents on the sites and the residents of Billington and the wider area.
Billington Parish Council has, over a period of time, consistently articulated residents’ concerns about how these sites impact on their quality of life. Residents of Billington have told council officers that they are ‘fearful’ going about their everyday lives and the constant anti-social behaviour and criminality, including intimidation and threats, erodes their quality of life on a day-to-day basis.
The safety, health and wellbeing of all our residents is important to us and we want to find a way of addressing the ongoing and in some cases, worsening issues, on and around the site.