The impact of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 on Britain's Travellers.
My research is concerned with the impact of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, 1994
(CJA) on Britain's Travellers, and combines an historical analysis of anti-nomadism with action
research in the field. The CJA had been widely interpreted as signaling the beginning of the end of
a viable nomadic existencei n Britain, as well as representinga further entrenchmenot f the powers
of the state at the expense of civil liberties. In relation to Travellers, the CJA withdrew the former
duty to provide adequate sites for Gypsies whilst simultaneously rendering unauthorised sites liable
to peremptory evictions, and Travellers themselves faced the prospect of criminalisation for
following a nomadic lifestyle. However, the CJA had more far-reaching powers than those directed
towards nomads and many of its provisions impinged on the rights to protest, to assemble and to
The relationship between nomads and the state is a complex one that has evolved over hundreds of
years, and invokes issues of ethnicity, 'race' and class with which this research is concerned.
Analysing the history of 'Gypsy' people in Britain reveals the processes which, on the one hand,
underlie their 'pariah' status and, on the other, render them fictionalised romantic figures of popular
folklore. The antithesis of the 'real Gypsy' is arguably the 'New Age' Travellers and the thesis goes
on to examine the role this latter group has played in the legitimation of anti-nomadic legislation in
our on times. By working with different groups of Gypsy and New Traveller families in their
attempts to legalise their sites, the research also examines the effects of the legislation on the
everyday lives of real Travellers on the road today, The similarities between the experience of
traditional and New Travellers revealed in this analysis are related to their respective marginal
positions in society, and reinforce the view that nomadism per se has been rendered problematic in
contemporary sedentary discourse.