Three activists at the Kingsnorth Power Station protest in 2008 are to receive compensation after Kent Police admitted they had been unlawfully stopped and searched.
The three, including two 11-year-old twins, were stopped under laws requiring police officers to have 'reasonable suspicion' that an individual is carrying prohibited weapons or articles that could be used to cause criminal damage.
However, during the case, brought against the police by the three protesters, it has now emerged that police had been conducting a blanket stop and search policy. Kent police now admit that search policy was 'unlawful' and 'should not have happened'.
An internal police review last year had initially said Kent police's widespread use of stop and search at the protest was only 'disproportionate'.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the three protesters say it was a 'massive violation of the human right to protest', and that the police should have admitted their errors earlier.
'That human rights breaches occurred on this scale, were not identified by the two internal police investigations into the operation, and ultimately had to be exposed by the activist and two tenacious children who brought this case says something very worrying about policing of peaceful protest about vital issues like climate change,' said John Halford from Bindmans LLP.
Other protesters who were at the Kingsnorth Camp say the stop and search tactics were not the only unlawful actions taken by police and that protesters were met with 'harassment, intimidation and violence'.
'Hundreds of people’s possessions were seized, from walking sticks to crayons to health and safety supplies,' said protester Sarah Horne. 'Riot police burst onto the site on a number of occasions and started beating people with batons, without warning or provocation.'
'Kent police have offered compensation to three people – but thousands of members of the public were searched, attacked or otherwise harassed at the 2008 Camp. Are Kent Police going to compensate and apologise to them all?'
The next Camp for Climate Action protest will take place near Edinburgh in August for a week of action against the Royal Bank of Scotland and its funding of fossil fuel projects around the world.
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