DUDLEY'S police chief has spoken out about why officers failed to evict travellers who had overstayed their welcome at the Coseley transit site.

Chief Superintendent Kim Madill, Dudley Police commander, told the News last week that she believed it was "imperative" that any action taken was "lawful and proportionate" after Dudley Council leader Councillor Patrick Harley voiced his anger at a lack of assistance from the police to evict a group of travellers who had failed to leave the temporary stay site in Budden Road.

Cllr Harley, who has always insisted the transit site would hardly be used as travelling families would not be keen to stay there, told how Chief Supt Madill had not agreed to support the council in action to evict a group who had failed to move off the site in the allotted time frame of 28 days "because she believed it infringed their human rights".

He told how he felt "badly let down by police" and said the decision went against the protocol agreed between the council and West Midlands Police.

But today Dudley's top cop took the unusual step of issuing a lengthy statement to members of the public about the West Midlands Police response to the matter.

She said: "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.

"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.

"From my perspective, the travelling group who were part of our community at the time, as far as West Midlands Police were aware had not caused any issues on site, were fully paid up and wanted to stay another week, there had been no significant complaints from the residents, no community tension reported, no anti-social behaviour or criminality associated to the group and they weren’t preventing another visiting community from accessing the site.

"We deal with each case on its merits to keep all of our communities safe and will work with our partners to respond to anti-social behaviour and criminality in any of communities. We will continue to use our powers to take enforcement action against individuals committing crime and or anti-social behaviour.

"One of the values that West Midlands Police pride itself on his being courageous and fair. This means making the right decisions, however tough they are, standing up for the right things and challenging unreasonable or discriminatory behaviour.

"It also means we want to work in diverse teams and we are also fortunate to have some colleagues who sit on the National Police Gypsy Roma Traveller association from within West Midlands Police.

"The association supports colleagues within policing who originate from the GRT community and assists us with reducing prejudice and racism against these community groups by advising on police polices and approaches."

The transit site in Budden Road was opened in August 2020 as a location for travelling families to be moved on to in the event of illegal encampments being set up elsewhere in the borough.

Cllr Harley hailed the site the best solution to curbing the borough's problem with groups setting up camp on public parks and open spaces across Dudley.

If a council has a transit site within its borough, travellers must move onto it or leave the area entirely but typically groups are only permitted to stay on the site for 28 days.