Homeless Roma gipsies cause ‘disproportionate amount of crime, begging and mess’, says Westminster councillor

Westminster councillor Nickie Aiken

Westminster councillor Nickie Aiken - Credit: Archant

Westminster’s councillor for community protection has launched an “astonishing” attack on the borough’s homeless Roma gipsies, accusing them of causing “a disproportionate amount of crime, begging and mess” and demanding tighter border controls.

Conservative Cllr Nickie Aiken was responding to a searing online tirade from a resident, who claimed the community were “turning streets into sewers”.

An incensed resident – known as “Billie” on the online forum – had demanded a response from police in a webchat with Met commisioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, after slamming the Roma “rough sleepers” who they said “defecating in the streets and committing crimes of anti-social behaviour.”

“No resolution has been found in over 18 months, how do the Met plan to address the situation and restore cleanliness and safety to London’s streets?” Billie added.

The statements prompted a sympathetic response from Cllr Aiken.

“Breaking up camps and even ASBOs ultimately only paper up the cracks,” she said. “We said all along that once the gangs are here it is already too late.

“Clearly not all rough sleepers are Roma. However the figures indicate that the groups around Mayfair and Marble Arch are predominately Roma and they do cause a disproportionate amount of crime, begging and mess.

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“We need a tightening of border controls to ensure that people whose only intent is to beg are not allowed to come here in the first place.”

Gill Brown, of the Traveller Law Reform Project said the councillor’s reaction was “astonishing”.

“It may be that some rough sleepers are from the Roma community, it may be that they are not, so she is blaming, possibly without evidence, homeless people who are always on the end of this kind of attack.”

“What needs to happen is an understanding of what homelessness is, not a knee-jerk reaction like this,” she said.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe also said it was important not to lash out at specific groups. “We have to be really careful not to stigmatise any group,’’ he said.

hard with Westminster and other councils to reduce the problems caused by homeless people living on the streets.”

He added: “This is a difficult problem and many other people who are homeless are in need of help as opposed to being arrested. However, we will apply the criminal law where they are committing offences ad they may be arrested - as you know this is only a short term solution.”