Climate Campaigners Criticise "Timid" HMIC Policing Report
July 07, 2009
Campaigners from the Camp for Climate Action have criticised today's report from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary as "timid". They claim that it lets the police off lightly and fails to tackle the substantive problems with the over-policing of protest.
The interim report, released this morning, aims to review policing tactics following widespread public criticism of heavy-handed policing at the G20 protests in April 2009.
But members of the Climate Camp have accused the HMIC of "tinkering around the edges" of the problem, and not tackling the real issues. Sarah Horne, a member of the Climate Camp's legal support team, said:
"We are pleased that this report recognises that it is the police's role to facilitate 'peaceful protest': the human rights of members of the public who choose to protest should always take precedence over the profits of polluting companies or the reputations of government department.”
"However, the general tone of the report - that the problems at the G20 and Kingsnorth protests stemmed from a lack of training of individual officers and a lack of communication with protesters - misses the point entirely. The police used force, anti-terror legislation, and kettling all over London on April 1st, and at the Climate Camps in 2007 and 2008. These tactics are normal operating practice and the result of decisions made and orders given by senior officers, not random incidents by wayward, ill-informed or badly-trained junior officers on the ground. The HMIC should be focusing its investigation at the top of the police force, not at the bottom."
They also note that the report seems to fudge the controversial issue of "kettling" - forming a tight police cordon around a crowd and refusing to let people enter or leave.
"We believe that kettling was a completely inappropriate tactic to use at the G20 protest, and so have launched a legal challenge against the police" said Jeremy Barber, another Climate Camper. "Surely the HMIC can see that it's wrong for the police to trap people for an indefinite amount of time without access to food, water or toilets, just for turning up to a protest? We are launching a similar challenge to police actions on the day after the G20 protests, when they arbitrarily arrested a large number of people who were sleeping in a community centre, took all their personal details and filmed them, and then let them all go again without charge. These abuses of police power are a blatant attempt to silence political dissent and dissuade people from using their democratic right to protest, and the HMIC needs to take these issues very seriously."
The Climate Camp legal team are currently fundraising to support these legal challenges, and needs to raise around £13,000. Donations from the public are very welcome and can be made via the www.climatecamp.org.uk website.