Simon Newell and travellers on Barony Park

A Crewe and Nantwich police chief said he has “sympathy” for residents suffering from unauthorised traveller encampments in the towns.

But Chief Inspector Simon Newell added that the police’s hands were largely tied.

He also believes residents tend to “exaggerate” incidents because of ongoing “negativity” towards travellers.

In an interview with Nantwich News, the Commander of Crewe LPU hit back at accusations the police treat the travelling community any differently to members of the public who reside in the town.

But he also said limited and ongoing cuts to policing resources were making it more difficult to respond.

“We treat everyone the same. We will not discriminate and try and be as fair as possible to all parties,” he said.

“It is a very emotive subject, especially in Nantwich.

“We have to try and balance our responses with needs and views of local residents, but equally understand and cater for the welfare of the travelling community.

“There is a lack of understanding as to what police can and can’t do.

“At the moment, we have no where to move travellers to. We receive a lot of calls each time it happens, but it’s the responsibility of the local authority Cheshire East Council to move them on in the first instance.

“Question is what can we do in the short term, medium term and long term.”

Chief Insp Newell said they were trying to provide a “visible policing presence” to reassure the community and respond to incidents.

“But what we find is, because of the negativity of community towards the travellers, they tend to exaggerate what they are reporting when there is no evidence of it,” he added.

“We have to provide video evidence for us to take immediate action, for example using Section 59 (Vehicles used in manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance)

“We simply can’t have officers 24/7 baby-sitting them – that’s an ineffective use of resources, we don’t have enough officers to do that and a human rights lawyer could argue that it would be a breach of their rights anyway.”

Chief Insp Newell’s Crewe LPU area covers 256 square miles, and deals with 43,000 incidents and around 16,000 crimes every year.

“Regarding the incident at Jepsons in Nantwich, there would not necessarily be an immediate response depending on many factors, and considering the significant cutbacks,” he added.

“I understand the frustration a lot of people feel and the expectation of public on us, but the pressures we’re under mean we have to make some difficult decisions around deployment.

“That Friday and weekend was exceptionally busy with serious assaults, burglaries, missing persons.

“I am certainly not playing down what happened at Jepsons, but as a shop-lifting incident we have to make tough decisions on whether it needs an immediate response.

“We are very very sympathetic to residents who have engaged with us and councillors and told us the issues they are facing.

“The long term plan is the transit site which means we would have somewhere to move them on to immediately.

“And if anyone failed to comply with that we could then be able to take immediate action to remove them, such as powers of arrest and seizing of vehicles and caravans.”

Chief Insp Newell also said travellers know their rights and the law.

“They know the legislation inside out.

“They understand as it stands now we are without power to enforce anything,” he added.

He also warned those angry at the situation not to take law into their own hands, although praised staff at Jepsons for chasing down the alleged shoplifters and getting their stolen stock back.

“It’s a difficult situation. For example, you don’t know if someone is carrying a knife or weapon.

“We want the public’s help to tackle ASB (anti-social behaviour) and crime but we don’t want people putting themselves at risk and coming to harm.

“It’s very much a judgement call, but items can be replaced, people can’t be.

“The situation with travellers is an emotive one, people are getting more and more frustrated at the perceived lack of action.

“They get frustrated thinking we can do more than can we do.

“I would actively discourage anyone from taking the law into their own hands – it’s counter-productive.

“It seems now that more significant progress is being made in finding a resolution and identifying a transit site.”

However, even when a transit site has been agreed on, it could take 18 months to two years to acquire the correct permissions and carry out the work needed before it’s open.

In the meantime, Chief Insp Newell praised the Nantwich beat team for continuing its ‘community engagement’ in dealing with this and other issues.

“It’s all about building trust in the community and making them very approachable. Without having the public on board we will never be able to address local issues.

“The approach of Ian (Bennett) and his team is spot on, going into schools which they often do in their own time and on days off – not in policing time.

“They often sacrifice their own personal time to do this sort of stuff.

“Nantwich is not without its drug problems and our community officers obtain vital intelligence and are supported by the response teams whenever they are needed to execute warrants. ”

Chief Insp Newell has pledged to attend a public meeting which Nantwich Town Council Mayor Arthur Moran plans to hold to discuss resolutions to the Barony Park problems.


  1. Hal Greenwood says:

    Well now we are all clear as I have always thought before, it’s a government issue not local councils and police to find an answer.

    Why not get the local community to get together and speak to these travellers as a social get together rather than taking a negative stance, as clearly nothing has made a jot of difference so far.

    Sometimes a simple chat on a friendly basis goes a lot further than pitchforks at dawn of years ago, certainly we can do better now. Why continue something that’s clearly not working, you don’t succeed that way.

  2. Two groups of travellers now on the park or as the police like to call it Nantwich answer to Glastonbury.

    The ground conditions look perfect despite the poor weather of late,perhaps we should relocate Nantwich show

  3. I suppose this response from the Chief Inspector was what we expected, almost a “nothing to do with us” attitude. As I write I see that the travellers are again camped on the Barony. I hope the residents plans can be pushed through and all power to them for their efforts. The issue of anti social behaviour is indeed a separate issue and to try and distance themselves from this is quite unbelievable. No good wasting time going into schools..the police know who those responsible for the repeated problems in town are, because I, and a lot of people recognise the same old faces. A lot of the issues are parental responsibilities. Come on, Chief Inspector, get your people on the streets, not sitting in patrol cars.

  4. what would happen if I parked my caravan and set up camp in nantwich..i am pretty sure the police would soon move me on…

    • You would come under the full weight of the law,as you have a fixed address to send your fines to.

      It would mean all their Christmases have come at once and would probably involve a full swot team plus overtime as you sound like nothing but trouble to me.

      Only joking,let me know when there are any free pitches available and I will bring my tent

  5. The need for a transit site and law enforcement within the town are two entirely separate issues, with the latter sitting firmly with CI Newell. It’s a sad indictment on him, his team and the wider authorities when he admits to being unable to enforce the law. ‘His hands are tied’. Even worse, when evidence is freely available, as is the case with Jepsongate, and the police still fail to act. I’d suggest with reasonable confidence that no visit was made to the traveller site on the park, even though they were known to be the perpetrators. He quotes the need for trust and respect, and even goes so far as to blame the townsfolk for an over reaction, but trust isn’t achieved by quoting cuts, resource and priority pressures. Nor does the presence of a speed enforcement van on the Peacock Roundabout on a regular basis. It has to be earned, and simply ignoring the travellers’ antics, because they know their rights (probably better than the police), and have no fixed abode, making prosecution more difficult, simply won’t cut it. Then, to patronisingly suggest that the public are ill-equipped to do their job for them, is simply pathetic. Cowards! I now know why we are where we are, and Newell and his team need to develop a backbone and earn their crust which is financed by our Council Tax. Primary school visits is an easy option. I could do that. Then again, I could also deal with ASB by Travellers should it directly affect me.

    • Love how on jepsongate the cops only called it a shoplifting incident failing to point out the assault on the owner, massaging the truth, pathetic, there’s a camp at sound common, send em there.

  6. Well maybe the officer sat in the police speed camera van could be better utilised in times of greater need.
    Or maybe he could park near the Barony and cover two jobs at once, just a thought?

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