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Pro-traveller campaigners have complained that a recent large scale police operation has been conducted by racial profiling.

Operation Elven is ostensibly dealing with the theft of ancient chinese artifacts and rhinoceros horn from museums across England and Ireland dating from last year. Raids have takenplace in London, Sussex, Cambridgeshire, the West Midlands, Essex and Northern Ireland. Police officers from twenty six forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) are involved in operation Elven.

On Wednesday(2nd October) there were two raids on the Cranleigh site in Surrey and Five Oaks site in Sussex.

One of the sites raided was Smithy Fen in Cambridge. Cambridge Unite Against Fascism mobilised to observe the 50 strong police operation. Despite police heavy handedness it seems the searches were conducted almost at random. In many instances the properties searched have had no links to the individuals on the warrants. Police have been raiding people on the pre-text that they are “associates” of suspects which in the closed world of travellers covers a lot of people.

Disabled and elderly people have been forced out of their homes. One Smithy Fen resident had the power to their medical equipment cut offwith no warning. A retired couple in their seventies were held during an eight hour raid by taser equipped police.

Phien O’Phien, a traveller rights campaigner, made the following statement: “Police have been raiding premises of Travellers all across the country and in some places in Ireland. They are allegedly only looking for a few men and their ill-gotten gains but are scouring the whole Traveller community as an excuse.”

The Travellers solidarity network (TSN) has issued a statement which emphasizes the fact those targeted by the police under operation Elven were connected with the organised resistance against the Dale Farm Eviction. They have issued a first-hand account of the police raid on Smithy Fen. It appears the police are using robberies as a disguise to intimidate and oppress the Traveller community and any of those that stand by it.

The cops of course maintain that “Operation Elven” is underway with the sole purpose of breaking up the conspiracy responsible for last year's high-profile thefts.. Yet the accounts of the harsh and humiliating treatment police are subjecting travellers to speak otherwise. Eight men, mainly of Irish Traveller ethnicity, have already been convicted and jailed for their involvement in the thefts.

A spokesperson for the TSN said “It's an opportunity to fish for information amongst all local Travellers, it happens all the time. They (the police) turn up at your doorstep and show you photographs of suspects and say that you must know them because you are a Traveller. They say that they are searching for one thing but have a good look around for anything else they can find. They automatically think you are a criminal and that you must be hiding something. The police would not treat any other minority like this.”

If anything similar is happening in your area get in touch with travellersolidarity@riseup.net

For more updates follow the blog.

There is more information available on netpol.

There are 3 comments on this story...
Added By: will latham - 12th October 2013 @ 9:31 AM
The story of Dale Farm is regarded as a big event over and done with.Not so.We will send you by Email the outline in form of a blog begun 8th August with over 20 posts which is made up from local sources and the Essex Police website (includes an info.doc.published March 2012.)
Oure interpretation is of a disorderly marriage between cops and Tory politicians -Cameron,Pickles and Ball plus local MP John Baron (cons.)
Added By: Yvonne - 17th October 2013 @ 6:17 PM
No disrespect to travellers however is it not part of their culture to thieve and scam others? That don't make them bad people, its just how they make a living. It's just like capitalists and Tories, they do the same but do it on a bigger scale.
Added By: Anonymous - 13th November 2013 @ 11:10 AM
The police treat everyone like this
Stories about similar subjects...

An update from the South Brent site.

A long standing travellers community is under attack in South Brent, Devon.

Traveller Solidarity turning the tables at the Department for Communities and Local Government as mass action day approaches.

Gratton the German Activist who was tasered during the Dale Farm Eviction finally had his electronic tag removed.

It made global headlines but after an extremely expensive violent and destructive eviction what's happened to the travellers at Dale Farm?

Yes it's Christmas again and apparently the season of good will to all, unless you are a Traveller. For instead of celebrating the winter solstice and preparing for the Christmas festivities like the rest of the nation; travellers In Brighton, and around the country, are preparing to up sticks and find somewhere else to put their homes, as many sites face eviction only days before xmas.

The Cigarrones travellers’ site is one of several communities which have sprung up near Orgiva in Andalucía, Spain, in recent decades. Coming to the southern tip of Europe to escape the repression against travellers in Britain and elsewhere, they have carved out a life of avin’ it autonomous anarchy – despite increasing attention from tinpot local authorities who act like Franco is still in. Since 1997 the site has held the annual Dragon Festival - now arguably one of the most significant free festivals in Europe – but this is also under attack. Here is a brief history written by a resident of Cigarrones:

Last Thursday (20th) after a month long struggle of battles and barricades, the Dale Farm residents and Camp Constant supporters walked off the site, leaving their homes to the bailiffs’ tools of destruction.

Twitter: @SchNEWS