Myth-busting

The following list of common myths and stereotypes was put together by Gypsy, Roma and  Traveller Police Officers and Police Staff in conjunction with GRT community members. The purpose of this list is to provide police and members of public with required knowledge and understanding, in order to prevent causing offense or discriminating unlawfully.


Gypsy, Roma and Travellers are one homogeneous group: It is a myth that GRT are one homogeneous group, all with the same customs traditions and culture. Irish Travellers are a specific ethnic group. Romani Gypsies are another distinct ethnic group, and like any ethnic groups they are made up of a diverse population which encompasses the whole of the economic and social spectrum. There is no one Traveller culture and there are no customs that everyone who is Traveller or Gypsy adheres to. There are, as with all ethnic groups certain traditions that some people choose to follow but this is not set in stone, and these things change over time.

Violence amongst GRT: The stereotype of Gypsies and Travellers as violent people is just that, a stereotype. Of course some are violent and some choose to settle grievances by violence – but this is true in any ethnic group and as with any other ethnic group, these people are in the minority.

Reluctance to engage with authorities: The issue of GRT people being reluctant to engage with the police and other authorities is again a generalisation. It isn’t true for all Gypsies and Travellers. This organisation, the GRTPA is a support network for Police Officers and Staff who are Gypsy, Roma or Traveller.  If all Travellers were reluctant to engage with the police then we could not exist.  There are many Gypsy and Traveller Police officers throughout the country but this is not a well-known fact, due in large part to the  reluctance of many officers to disclose their ethnicity. The reason for this, as in other sectors, is because of the discrimination and stereotyping towards our ethnic groups that exists and has existed for many years. The lack of trust in the police and other authorities that does exist with some Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, and the subsequent lack of engagement is a direct reflection of this discrimination.

Offensive language: Gypsies Roma and Travellers suffer a disproportionate amount of discrimination. and offensive language is often used to describe us often without challenge or fear. A common racist slur often used to describe Gypsies is “Pikey” . There is much debate as to  the origins of this word. Some suggest it originates from Turnpike, the word for a toll road, others suggest it is linked to pikemen, the medieval spear (pike) carrying soldiers. Whatever the origins, the words is regarded as very offensive by Gypsies Roma and Travellers. Terms often aimed at Irish Travellers are Tinker and Knacker. Both of these words are also deemed extremely offensive.

Burglary markings:

Roma = Romanian: