(2005) JLP 51: 29-49
Attempts by the majority community in Britain to reduce perceived criminal behaviour by Roma/Gypsies/Travellers have generally been unsuccessful. Whether attempting to apply existing laws more rigorously, to enact more repressive laws, or to enact laws which will integrate Gypsies into the majority population, all policies have foundered on a failure to understand Gypsy culture, and in particular Gypsy modes of solving conflict and repressing criminal behaviour.
A factor often overlooked is that Gypsy law varies considerably. Gypsy justice systems, taken together, exhibit virtually the widest functional range of cultural particularity possible, just as do non-Gypsy systems. Of possible state strategies towards Gypsy minorities, the human rights model, which ensures that the fundamental rights of human beings are respected in virtue of their humanity, not their nationality, presents the greatest advantages. The model might be applied to criminal justice issues between communities by promoting easier access to litigation and by turning to the idea of restorative justice. The latter is especially promising, but will depend on overcoming the monocultural impermeability of most European state legal systems. They need to be induced to work towards social harmony by the study of Gypsy culture and the provision of space for its continued practice.