Investigation into security 'mistakes' behind traveller incursion
An investigation has begun into “mistakes” that saw traveller caravans evicted from a week-long stay in a recreation ground in Kingston only to drive straight to another park in Surbiton.
Kingston Council is still counting the cost of the incursion.
Five caravans drove through a gap in fencing on Monday afternoon, June 18, but were able to drive straight in Surbiton Fish Ponds after they were finally legally evicted eight days later.
In a meeting before the Fairfield eviction, Kingston Council chief executive Bruce McDonald promised councillors that once the notice had been served the travellers would leave Kingston.
But police did not escort the group to the borough boundary, which Kingston Council admitted broke established protocol.
The rules, brought in by the council, police and the courts, were put in place following a series of raves and traveller pitches at Tolworth Court Farm in 2000.
Councillors want to know how traveller families were able to get on to the Fairfield and the Fish Ponds.
Council leader Derek Osbourne said: “I have asked for a full investigation because it certainly appears that mistakes have been made. We have also beefed up security and will be looking at the lesson we can learn from what happened.
“It appears assurances were given the travellers would be escorted to the borough boundaries that should have been carried out.”
The council asked the police to use special, rarely used criminal justice powers to remove the travellers from the Fishponds site but they left of their own accord.
A police spokesman said that the police were not informed that the travellers were leaving the Fairfield site until too late.
Kingston Council confirmed the contract with the security firm responsible for looking after Fairfield was being reviewed, amid concerns staff failed to notify the council the travellers were departing.
They also revealed they were forced to bring in another company to cope with the two incursions at a cost of nearly £4,000 in extra security.
Deputy leader Liz Green said: “It appears that the security on the Fairfield was at fault.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered on how this has been dealt with.”