A GROUNDBREAKING research document on the traveller population commissioned by Evesham and Pershore Housing Association is being launched in Birmingham today (Friday).

The research was carried out by the University of Central England in Wychavon District Council area which has more than 1,000 travellers from more than 200 families - greater than all other minority ethnic populations grouped together - and steadily increasing

"Revealing and often controversial facts emerge," said Chris Scott-Tucker, care services manager at EPHA.

"From interviews with travelling families it is clear that roadside living presents a number of fears, including the risk of violence and theft."

He said the location of approved traveller sites was heavily criticised for lacking in basic facilities and being located away from the community, often hidden behind high fences and screened by trees. One traveller commented: "Many of the sites look like concentration camps. When I watch World War II films, I can relate to prisoners of war."

For those who made the transition from sites to housing, said Mr Scott-Tucker, the report, Where is the Real Choice?, showed that problems often increased. Social exclusion, discrimination and lack of understanding from the community at large were felt deeply.

"How are we to settle?" commented one traveller.

"Every time we move the curtains twitch, and although my kids were born in this house they get called gyppos."

Views of neighbours and residents were also studied as part of the research and showed a wide range of problems and complaints. They included children going into other people's gardens, not attending school and causing general disruption.

Adult travellers were perceived as being noisy, shouting to each other rather than talking, and spending most of the time out of doors.

One resident commented: "When they move in they are never indoors.Their kids are grubby and into everything.

"They shout, they are aggressive, and at weekends their relatives come to visit in lorries."

Mr Scott-Tucker explained that the results of the survey, as well as providing statistics for the Housing Corporation, would help indicate what sort of accommodation was required for travellers and to attract grants to provide it.

"There are sometimes difficulties with travellers moving from sites into permanent accommodation and if we can smooth that path for everyone it will be all to the good," he said.