Climate Campers Respond To New Parliamentary Policing Report: “We'll See You In August!”
July 28, 2009
August 27th Climate Camp event in London will be next big test for police
Today, the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights releases its latest report into the policing of protest . This report, written largely in response to the G20 Climate Camp protest on April 1st 2009, piles yet more criticism onto the police, stating that they should do more to improve communication with protesters; allow better access to journalists; not contain people in “kettles” without access to water, toilets and medical help; make it illegal for police to hide their identification numbers; and ensure that people's human rights are given priority during the policing of protest.
This report follows similar criticisms about the over-policing of climate protest from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary , the Home Affairs Select Committee , and South Yorkshire Police . The next UK Climate Camp will take place from August 27th – September 2nd in London, and will, campaigners say, test whether the police are going to change their behaviour in the light of all of these reports.
Dave Spencer, part of the Climate Camp's legal support team, said: “None of these reports have gone far enough. They flag up failures in police training, preparation and communication, but skirt around the bigger picture. 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.”
Mr Spencer continued: “The JCHR points out that human rights should be at the heart of the policing of protest. We'd have thought this was obvious - if you as a member of the public choose to join a protest, you don’t suddenly give up your human rights! The inconvenience that might be caused by people choosing to protest on the streets does not justify trapping people in a police cordon without food or water for hours on end. The fact that an energy company might lose some profit if it’s invaded by protesters, doesn’t justify the use of violence against those protesters.”
Deborah Swaine, who attended the G20 Climate Camp and is planning to come to the August camp too, said: “These police tactics are an attempt to silence us. But they won’t succeed. More and more people want to take part in, or support, real action on the root causes of climate change. The Government is trying to use dodgy financial scams like carbon trading to justify their polluting plans for new coal power and new runways. We won’t let them get away with it, and so we invite everyone who cares about the climate, or about the right to protest, to join us in London from the 26th of August for the next Climate Camp!”
At present, the precise location of the Camp is not known, but interested members of the public are being invited to get to London on August 26th. The final location will then be revealed via the Climate Camp's Twitter , text messaging service  and Facebook page , at which point everyone will “swoop” onto the site. The site will then be open for a week of workshops, speakers, action training and sustainable living, with the public free to join in at any point and for as long as they like.
Notes For Editors
- The report should appear on the Committee's website today, at http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/joint_committee_on_human_rights/policing_and_protest.cfm
- The text messaging service will soon be available at www.climatecamp.org.uk