Council leader calls for police chief to be moved out of Dudley over travellers row

A council leader has called for a town's police chief to be reassigned amid a row over her handling of a travellers' encampment.

Dudley Council say police refused to move on travellers from Budden Road, Coseley, over human rights concerns
Dudley Council say police refused to move on travellers from Budden Road, Coseley, over human rights concerns

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said he has "lost all confidence" in the borough's police commander Kim Madill and urged her to "consider her position".

He claims she breached protocol by refusing to move on travellers who had stayed at the Budden Road transit site in Coseley for longer than the 28-day period allowed by law.

Chief Superintendent Madill said in making her decision she had ensured the force was "recognising diversity" and "demonstrating our care and compassion for difference".

Conservative councillor Mr Harley said he had written to Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster and has called for Ch Supt Madill to be reassigned.

"I will be requesting she be moved from Dudley borough because I have lost all confidence in her ability to be impartial," Mr Harley said.

"If she wants to play at being a politician she should give up the uniform and stand for election. There is a protocol in place for dealing with travellers.

"They are not homeless. They are living in caravans on a transit site, which means they can stay for a maximum of 28 days and it's not for her to decide if and when they are moved on.

"I believe her political feelings are affecting her judgment, and in this instance her judgment is flawed.

"She should consider her position."

Dudley borough commander Chief Superintendent Kim Madill of West Midlands Police

In an email to residents explaining her decision, Ch Supt Madill said the travellers had not been involved in any anti-social behaviour or criminality and were "part of our community at the time".

"Our response was about doing the right thing, being lawful and ensuring our actions were proportionate within the scope of the agreed protocol we have in place with the local authority as well as West Midlands Police and national guidance on this," she said.

"There were a number of things that I took into account in my decision making and discussions with the local authority – one of those was about recognising diversity, treating people with dignity and respect and as human beings as well as demonstrating our care and compassion for difference.

"I posed myself the questions – if this was a normal landlord/tenant dispute where a tenant had failed to vacate at the end of their tenancy agreement, would the police get involved?

"How does this impact on trust and confidence and that vital issue of legitimacy that West Midlands Police strive for in relation to all of our communities, not least those that are protected as part of cultural or religious groups, as the gypsy, Roma, traveller community are.

"I was also acutely aware of exposing colleagues and putting them in a situation where they were acting unlawfully."

The Budden Road transit site opened in August 2020 despite opposition from residents.

Assistant Chief Constable for local policing, Rich Baker said: "I fully support Chief Superintendent Madill who has taken a sensitive and proportionate approach to dealing with this matter.

"We will continue to work closely with the council on all matters - including unlawful encampments - for the good of everyone who lives, works or visits Dudley."

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