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Police chief welcomes 'tough action' to evict travellers from school car park

A police and crime commissioner has criticised the "disgraceful" behaviour of travellers who refused to leave a school car park, forcing hundreds of pupils to miss lessons.

Birmingham City Council used common law powers to evict the group from the grounds of Shenley Academy, two days after they ignored a formal notice to leave.

More than 20 police officers were drafted in on Monday to help evict around 60 adults who moved dozens of caravans and towing vehicles onto the school's parking area on Friday afternoon.

After the last caravan had left the site, the West Midlands' elected Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said: "Parents have every right to be upset and outraged at the disruption to their children's schooling.

"I welcome the tough action taken to evict the travellers.

"I recently held a summit, bringing the police and local councils from across the West Midlands around the table to respond to this ongoing issue.

"This disgraceful incident highlights why it is crucial for the summit's recommendations to be acted upon as soon as possible."

Mr Jamieson, who has raised the problems faced by the school with the chief constable, said it was crucial that the council worked with other agencies to bring about a long-term solution.

The school's principal said the site would be shut to all but Year 11 and sixth form students, who would get a police escort on to the site on Monday morning.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Lucy Monk said: "I recognise that this situation is detrimental to the education of our students, and it is certainly not a decision which has been taken lightly.

"I have been working with West Midlands Police throughout the weekend as this situation has unfolded and I hope to be able to return the whole academy to a normal operation as quickly as possible."

Speaking after the travellers had left the site, Police Sergeant Dave Cotter said an Audi car was seized from the illegal camp on Saturday for having no tax or insurance.

The vehicle is thought to have been involved in a non-stop collision in nearby Northfield prior to its seizure.

Sgt Cotter said the travellers had caused huge disruption for the school, teachers and pupils, as well as parents who had been forced to make last-minute care arrangements for children unable to come to school.

"The group ignored a notice to leave, which gave them 24 hours to move on, and in the end we were left with no option but to force them to leave the school grounds," he said.

"Since they arrived on Friday, we've conducted house-to-house patrols, listened to people's concerns and reassured them we would act swiftly. I hope the community can see that's exactly what we've done."

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