Expert's Case For Improving Gypsy Community Relations

23 August 2011

John Coxhead

Dr John Coxhead at a recent book signing at the University.

The key point is that solutions lie in genuinely working together to promote mutual understanding and respect

Dr John Coxhead, Research Fellow.

Police across Europe will be trained in how to better deal with gypsy communities using research by a Derby academic.

Dr John Coxhead, a University of Derby Research Fellow, has been writing and lecturing for more than ten years on social attitudes to the 12 million members of Romany, Irish traveller and Roma communities across Europe.

His latest research on how these communities can be better policed - to combat hate crimes based on race, for example - is being translated into different languages to become a set text at police training colleges throughout Europe.

It follows John's work with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), based in Vienna, which works to promote stability and democracy across Europe.

His research raises issues such as:

  • some police forces' lack of effective response to hate crimes against gypsies
  • the need for officers to build good links with travellers
  • developing procedures tailored to the different needs of these communities.

John said: "The research I've carried out has been presented to organisations working with Roma communities and to the Romanian Gypsy King himself.

"Society can have very strong views about gypsies and travellers but sometimes people's views can be influenced by negative media reporting rather than personal experience.

"The research took a problem solving approach to look for practical solutions by working with a diversity of people, including gypsies and travellers themselves.

"In this recent application of the research, we are applying solutions for European law enforcement agencies so they can build bridges with the communities to improve policing and community cohesion. The key point is that solutions lie in genuinely working together to promote mutual understanding and respect."

Commenting on John's research an OSCE spokesman added: "It is hoped that the examples of good practices for improving the relationship between the police, and Roma and Sinti communities, that have been compiled in this book will be broadly disseminated and widely used by policymakers."

Find more information on John's research.

For further information please contact Press and PR Officer Sean Kirby on 01332 591891 or 07876 476103, or email s.kirby@derby.ac.uk.

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