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Angela Eagle: I understand the hon. Gentleman's argument, and when I said that these were complex and difficult issues, I hope that he sensed that I was acknowledging the problem. As always, we will keep an eye on trends in this area. I also hope that I gave the hon. Gentleman a hint that the police negotiating board may be a first port of call on extra allowances if a case can be made for the Bedfordshire police.
It is important in the few minutes we have left to get a point in about the travelling community. I have every sympathy with those whose lives are blighted by antisocial behaviour and criminality, whatever its source, which should be taken seriously and dealt with firmly.
The police are slightly baffled by the problems with the travelling community, as no particular cases have been drawn to their attention. I know that there has been an increase in distraction burglary in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. People may attribute such crimes to the travelling community. If that is happening, it is important that people contact the police so that they can note events, investigate what is going on and get more information about who is perpetrating such crimes. At the moment, the police are slightly baffled by the concentration of crime attributed to the travelling community. It may well be going on, but if it is, it should be reported to the police so that they can track trends.
The police and local authorities can use their powers under sections 61 and 77 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, at an early stage if necessary, to direct travellers to leave land when the statutory conditions are met. Although those are discretionary powers, we have always made it clear that antisocial behaviour and criminality should not be tolerated, and that the traveller lifestyle is no justification for behaviour that is not acceptable in the settled community.
Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, we introduced new antisocial behaviour orders. At present, such orders can cover only a single local government area or that area and adjoining areas. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be supportive of changes that we are proposing in the Police Reform Bill to introduce powers to impose an antisocial behaviour order that will be valid over a wider area than the single local authority, and potentially over the whole country. I hope that he will realise that that may be relevant if traveller communities exhibit antisocial behaviour.
Andrew Selous: I am conscious that we have only minutes left, but may I ask the hon. Lady to give me an undertaking that she will liaise with Ministers in the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions about land currently classed as agricultural land that is turned into a settled encampment? We must consider that problem very seriously. It is different from the trespass issue, but it is causing huge concern to large numbers of my constituents and those of many hon. Members.
Angela Eagle: The hon. Gentleman has left me about 20 seconds, so I shall abandon the rest of my speech. I was going to say that I will draw his remarks to the attention of my colleagues in the DTLR, and I am sure that they will be in touch with him shortly.