We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Policing of Kent climate camp "outrageous" say Lib Dems

March 12, 2009 12:14 PM
Antony Hook and Chris Davies MEP after the Climate Camp Rally at Kingsnorth on the evening of 7 August.

Lib Dems Antony Hook and Chris Davies MEP after the Climate Camp Rally at Kingsnorth

A new report about the policing of the recent Camp for Climate Action at Kingsnorth in Kent is today launched by David Howarth, Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Secretary, with the climate camp legal team.

Using eyewitness accounts, supported by video footage, the report reveals the policing tactics employed at the camp, including:

  • Abuse of stop-and-search powers
  • Sleep deprivation tactics, such as broadcasting the Clash's 'I Fought The Law' in the early hours of the morning
  • Pressuring campers to give their personal details when they exercised their right not to, including threatening individuals with foreign accents with arrest for immigration offences
  • Harassment and obstruction of legal observers, including threatening arrest for conspiracy
  • Seizure of hundreds of personal items including soap, clown costumes and board games
  • Heavy-handed policing of protest action, including aggressively threatening a peaceful procession involving children, the elderly and people with disabilities

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said:

"The harassment of thousands of protesters who were peacefully campaigning against new dirty coal in Kingsnorth highlights just how shallow Ed Miliband's call for a 'mass movement' against climate change actually is.

"The longer the Government fails to act to safeguard the environment, the more protests and calls for action there will be. It would be inexcusable if suppression of protests became a substitute for dealing with the root causes of climate change."

Commenting further, David Howarth said:

"The evidence contained in this report is deeply disturbing, the police tactics employed at Kingsnorth were out of all proportion to any threat posed by the protesters and were an affront to civil liberties.

"It is impossible to square what happened - an extraordinarily expensive and repressive police operation - with government descriptions of it at the time as 'proportionate'.

"The police seem to have crossed an important line between preventing crime and preventing protest itself. To equate people who want to protest against government policies on climate change with violent extremists is absurd.

"There must be an immediate inquiry into the policing of environmental protest and into the politicisation of the policing of protest generally."