Violent clashes as Dale Farm eviction begins
The eviction of hundreds of Travellers from the UK’s largest illegal site began this morning with riot police being called in.
A series of confrontations between police and campaigners broke out just after riot control officers from Basildon Police moved into Dale Farm at around 7am this morning.
According to reports, Tasers have been deployed on protesters, some of who were throwing stones at police while one caravan has been set on fire.
Basildon Council is trying to evict families living on 49 illegal pitches after winning a series of High Court judgements last week.
Tony Ball, leader of the council, said: ‘The pre-meditated and organised scenes of violence that we have already seen with protesters throwing rocks and bricks, threatening police with iron bars and setting fire to a caravan are shocking.
‘These are utterly disgraceful scenes and demonstrate the fact some so called supporters were always intent on violence.
‘Nonetheless we are going to press on with this operation with our partners in a safe, dignified and humane way and will uphold the law.’
A Basildon Council spokesperson said: ‘The operation to clear Dale Farm, the illegal travel settlement in Crays Hill, Essex commenced at 7am with significant police activity focused on two ends of the site.
‘Riot police entered the site this morning after taking command of the operation.’