Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities are experiencing hate incidents on an almost daily basis, while mental health issues and suicide are leading to an “epidemic of needless deaths”, a government-funded report has found.
The report suggests a possible correlation between TV shows and hate speech, with reported increases in incidents following programmes such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding on Channel 4.
A spike in cases submitted to the Report Racism GRT hate crime project followed the broadcast of the same channel’s Dispatches programme, The Truth About Traveller Crime, in April 2020, with 45 cases that month and a total of 92 additional reported cases of hate crime/speech between February and May 2020.
Prof Margaret Greenfields from Buckinghamshire New University, who carried out the study, said she was shocked by the “sheer number of families who had experienced multiple bereavement through suicide”, adding: “It is unsurprising, albeit tragic, that mental health difficulties and suicide rates are so high among the communities.”
Josie O’Driscoll of Josie O’Driscoll, said: “One young person told us: ‘I’ve had enough, I can’t take it any more.’ Everywhere he turned he felt he faced prejudice … A big part of Traveller life is attending funerals. By the time you get over one trauma, you are grieving for the next person.”