Jewish charity condemns government consultation on strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments

René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights, has sent a submission to the Home Office’s consultation on “Strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments” in an act of solidarity with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities.

René Cassin campaigns against racism and discrimination faced by the UK’s Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities. Last year, in collaboration with The Traveller Movement, René Cassin launched the #CutItOut campaign seeking to tackle harmful rhetoric and hate speech. That same year, It mobilised wide support within the Jewish community a letter to the Home Secretary expressing concern over the government’s portrayal and treatment of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

René Cassin stressed that the Home Office consultation, its proposals, and the language surrounding it, are deeply disturbing. Its submission stated, “The Government is complicit in perpetuating harmful stereotypes that jeopardise the safety and wellbeing of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people. Whilst the Home Secretary’s foreword describes the UK as “one of the most tolerant countries in the world, which has a proud tradition of promoting respect (…for one another)”, the language and ideas in the consultation itself, and those around it, damage the credibility of the Home Secretary’s statement.”

René Cassin drew upon Jewish history and experience to highlight the devastation caused by the loss of house and home. Mia Hasenson-Gross, René Cassin’s executive director stated the unique role of the organisation, as a bridge linking between communities with similar experience, “René Cassin, the Jewish voice of human rights, speak as the children and grandchildren of refugees, many of whom saw their homes and with it the lives they had built ripped from them overnight. The sense of belonging, feeling safe and secure, is intrinsically linked to house and home. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, and nomadic ways of life, have long been a part of the country we call home, they belong.”

Board of Deputies Vice President Edwin Shuker said: “The government is right to seek a solution to the problem of unauthorised encampments. However, any proposals must be very careful in terms of their potential impact on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, which are already some of the most marginalised and persecuted in the UK. It is the lack of authorised sites which is the root of the problem.”

At a time in which marginalised and minority groups, such as the Jewish community, are facing an alarming rise in hate crime, René Cassin stands against bigotry and discrimination, in all its forms. This consultation, and the language around it, is regressive and reveals the extent to which prejudice has become embedded in politics. Jewish history and experience make us all too aware of how hateful language and draconian practices, endorsed by politicians and government, can contribute to endangering the lives of innocent and marginalised people. We forget the ways in which hateful and divisive rhetoric leads to discrimination, hate crime, violence, and genocide, at our peril. The Holocaust is a warning from history, and as the Jewish voice of human rights, René Cassin use its voice to highlight the genuine and considerable concerns felt by Gypsy and Traveller communities regarding the government’s consultation.


Notes to editors:

René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights, promotes and protects the rights of all people, drawing on Jewish experience and values.

Although they all have their own unique cultures and histories, Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are united by ongoing, endemic discrimination they face in the UK, today, which is often described as “the last respectable form of racism.”[1]

René Cassin continues to work with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who we commend for their submission to this consultation, and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller organisations such as The Traveller movement and Friends, Families and Travellers who, as speakers from experience, have provided valuable insight which has informed our submission.

For further comment from René Cassin – the Jewish voice for human rights – contact Mia Hasenson-Gross, Director, on 020 3621 5464

For further comment from Friends, Families and Travellers - a leading national Traveller led charity – please contact them on 01273 234 038

[1] Sir Trevor Phillips, (former) Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, 2004.

Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of René Cassin, on Thursday 5 March, 2020. For more information subscribe and follow

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Jewish charity condemns government consultation on strengthening police powers to tackle unauthorised encampments