From the time of their first appearance in England in the early 16th century to the present day Gypsies have been considered a "problem" by the British state. Viewed as unwanted aliens, parasites, rogues and criminals, the state has adopted various strategies to curb the so-called "Gypsy menace". This detailed study of state policies against Gypsies and local enforcement throws new light on attitudes to more recent immigrants and could be used by teachers for project work into the origins of discrimination against minorities. After an overview of Gypsy persecution in Europe from the earliest days to the Nazi Holocaust the text describes the efforts of central government in England to control gypsies by legislation. A brief account is then given of the severe anti-Gypsy legislation of the 16th and 17th centuries and vagrants in the Victorian period. The author's description of local governments' search for a solution to nomadic "menace" and "nuisance" includes detailed accounts of the eviction of Gypsies from traditional sites in Handsworth (1908) and Blackpool (1909).
This work is the English edition of a volume in the "Interface Collection", a series on Gypsy history and culture commissioned by the Centre for Gypsy Research in Paris, for schools and colleges throughout the European Union. It complements the account of the position today given in "On the Verge: the Gypsies of England".