Police hostility will not stop us, say activists

| 28th July 2009
Police tactics have been heavily criticised in two reports
Police tactics have been heavily criticised in two reports
Climate Camp activists are expecting more aggressive police tactics this summer
 

Police tactics at the Kingsnorth Climate Camp and the G20 protests have come in for heavy criticism from two reports published over the past week.

An internal police review found the widespread use of stop and search at the Climate Camp protest at Kingsnorth power station last August to be 'disproportionate'.

But a report from MPs, published today, went further. It said the controversial use of containment or 'kettling' by police at the G20 protests in April was 'unlawful'. The Joint Committee on Human Right's report went on to say, 'there is a long way to go' before human rights is central to policing tactics.

MPs recommended the use of independent negotiators to facilitate dialogue and to resolve disputes between police and protesters. This comes after evidence given to the Committee by a number of G20 protesters who complained of police tactics.

Police tactics

Tom Brake MP described taking a number of people, including a man who needed to leave to care for his 83 year old mother and a diabetic who needed to get insulin, to the police to ask for them to be released.  All were refused permission to leave.

Another protester said people needing medical treatment were told that they were only allowed to leave if they were treated by police medics and if they gave their name and address and had their photograph taken.

Activists remain sceptical that either report will lead to changes in police tactics.

Heavy-handed

'None of these reports have gone far enough,' said Dave Spencer, part of the Climate Camp's legal support team. 'The policing of climate protest has become more and more heavy-handed over the last few years.

'We’ve seen police violence, massive abuse of stop and search powers, people trapped for hours without food or water, indiscriminate surveillance, harassment and mass pre-emptive arrests.

'This isn’t a lack of training or bad communication – these are tactical decisions taken by senior police officers, presumably with the knowledge and support of Government officials,' he said.

'If you as a member of the public choose to join a protest, you don't suddenly give up your human rights,' said Mr Spencer.

Organisers of the Climate Camps taking place in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland this August say they will not be 'silenced' by police tactics.

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