'No interest in land': Legal and spatial enclosure of Gypsy-Travellers in Britain

Angus Bancroft*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the place of Gypsy-Travellers within the British legal system. It considers the function of the law in establishing moral and social norms and pathologising aspects of Traveller life. It examines how a variety of legal principles, discourses and bureaucratic agencies combine to construct travellers as deviant with regard to the moral and social order. It considers the attempts in British law to control Travellers' spatial practices and nomadic lifestyle, and the ambivalent nature of legislation in this area. The Caravan Sites Act 1968 is examined in terms of its formation and implementation. The origin and impact of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 are assessed. It contends that the criminal justice system has its own rationality which may conflict with both that of the formal law and other parts of the state. It is argued that institutional discrimination exists within the legal system, based on ingrained 'sedentarist' assumptions about what constitutes a normal way of life. Both the 1968 and the 1994 Acts can be criticised in these terms. Travellers have, however, been able to resist many of the practices of legal and spatial enclosure to which they are subject.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-56
Number of pages16
JournalSpace and Polity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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