I’m an Irish traveller & we are being forced to live in homes… it’s like PRISON – my family keeps ringing me up in tears | The Sun

AN Irish traveller has slammed new anti-trespass laws which he says will feel "like prison" for his family if they are forced into homes.

Martin Ward, 30, is one of many Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities fearing the new Police, Crime, Sentencing And Courts Act 2022 set to come into force this month.

Under the Act, thousands from Traveller communities could face eviction if they are deemed to cause "significant harm, disruption or distress" while stopping overnight on unauthorised land.

Police will be handed more powers to dish out fines of up to £2,500 with jail terms of three months for those who don't comply.

But Martin, from Northfleet, Kent, says the unauthorised encampment rules are set to "criminalise the Traveller way of life".

He told Kent Online: "I never thought it would be a law to come in.

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"They are trying to force us into houses which we can't live in, it will feel like prison.

"My family is ringing me all the time crying saying what are we to do if we have nowhere to go."

He added: "We are not doing anything wrong we are just being who we are."

The Home office says enforcement of the measures will come into place on June 28.

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The changes are being brought in as part of a Conservative Party manifesto pledge to tackle unauthorised encampments and follows two rounds of public consultation.

But Martin says there is lack of transit sites for Travellers to go to and councils lack both funding and political will to deliver them.

The YouTube and TikTok performer disputes claims Travellers are responsible for much of the widespread vandalism and littering in country parks, saying suggestions are often exaggerated.

And he says many Traveller families, including his own, will struggle to adjust if turfed out of transit, Kent Online reports.

Martin said: "We are up against a lot of racism. We are not changing for anyone."

Under the Housing Act 1985, local housing authorities are required to assess everyone's housing and accommodation needs, including those who live in caravans.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The majority of Travellers are law-abiding and we respect their right to follow a nomadic way of life.

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"No one should have unchecked rights to trespass on other people’s land without their permission and cause harm and boundless misery to local communities without consequence.

“As is the theme with many of the measures in this Act, this new offence for unauthorised encampments is about giving the police the right powers and flexibility to protect the law-abiding majority from disruption and harm.”

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