Anglican and Catholic bishops say 'confrontation and violence are not the answer' as riot police move in on Traveller site

Anglican and Catholic bishops have called for a “peaceful resolution” to the Dale Farm dispute as bailiffs and riot police move in to try to evict residents from the illegal Traveller site.

Bricks and debris were thrown at police this morning as they broke down a fence this morning. Two people have been Tasered and one arrested, according to Essex Police. One woman set fire to her own caravan.

Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and the Rev Stephen Cottrell, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford, said that “confrontation and violence only breed further hardship and distress and are not the answer”.

“We would encourage the families at Dale Farm and the local authority to move forward in a spirit of dignity and restraint,” the bishops said. “In the meantime, we are keeping all those affected by the current and distressing situation very much in our prayers at this difficult time.”

The Travellers at Dale Farm lost an attempt to stave off the evictions at the Court of Appeal on Monday.

Irish Travellers have lived on the site legally since the 1970s. But in 2001 illegal pitches began to be set up on protected greenbelt land.