What the census tells us

There were two new tick boxes in the 2011 Census: Gypsy or Irish Traveller, and Arab. Gypsy or Irish Travellers accounted for 58,000 usual residents (0.1 per cent of the population), making it the smallest ethnic category (with a tick box) in 2011. The highest proportion of people who identified as Gypsy or Irish Traveller were found in the South East and East of England with Basildon, Maidstone, Swale, Fenland and Ashford all at 0.5 per cent.

This is the first census to have included the tick box and there was a campaign before the census to make the communities aware of the change but the figure is significantly lower than previous estimates suggesting that many families were either excluded from the census or chose the more neutral British or Irish identifications. It is unlikely that Roma families would have ticked this box, regarding the term Gypsy as racist and not considering themselves to be Travellers. It also only covers England and Wales.

An interactive map is available for users to explore all ethnic groups further at the local authority level. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/interactive/census-map-2-1—ethnicity/index.html

Research group 20th April 2012

The second meeting of the Research Group was held at the Open Society Foundation on Friday 20th April. The attendance was not as good as the first meeting, which may have been due to belated reminder emails.

Brian Foster had produced first draft of a proposal for research around the alarmingly high level of Irish Traveller and Gypsy Roma exclusions. The draft had been discussed and broadly supported by the Roma Support Group; they suggested that Roma were more likely to self-exclude, and this could be incorporated into the proposal. The next step would be to break the proposal down into operational components to identify potential researchers, funders and partners. One possibility would be the development of a research cluster around the university of Greenwich.

Another potential cluster appears to be developing around Dr John Coxhead at the University of Derby, possibly focusing on criminology, policing and the law.

There was a discussion about the focuses of activity, local, national and international with the feeling that the European framework for Roma integration, the proposals of the ministerial working group, and the work of Open Society Foundation may all generate research topics.

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Greenwich research meeting

ACERT brought together a powerful group of academics, practitioners and activists to stimulate and coordinate research in the areas of Gypsy Roma Traveller Education, Health, Criminal Justice, Employment and Accommodation. The meeting was chaired by Brian Foster and led by Emeritus Professor Thomas Acton.

It was recognised that research operates at many different levels, developing theories, informing practitioners and influencing policy making; proposals should aim to do be as practically useful in supporting the communities struggles for Human Rights and Respect. Community based groups, such as the Irish Travellers Movement in Britain argued for research to support policy change. Academics from six different Universities outlined the work in which they were involved and set the work in a European context.

It was agreed that bids for research should be build on existing good quality studies, feed into policy development and involve community participation. It was agreed that research proposals should be developed by groups of interested individuals, but that the research group should meet regularly for updates. The next meeting will be on Friday April 20th, 10-12am, Open Society Foundation, Cambridge House, 100 Cambridge Grove (2nd floor) Hammersmith, London W6 0LE. The meeting is open to all with an interest in these areas of research.

Meeting minutes: