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Police threat to Titnore protest

Worthing resident | 23.10.2005 08:23 | Ecology | Repression | London | South Coast

SUSSEX Police have mounted what looks like a politically motivated campaign against protesters fighting the 875-home housing development and road widening at Titnore Woods, Durrington.

An article appeared in The Argus on Friday (October 21), headlined "Police fears over vigil to halt new homes".
Referring to the event planned for Saturday (October 29), this stated that police "have not been officially notified and fear the protest could become unruly".
It quotes Superintendent Lance Gray as stating: "Section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986 places a requirement on the organisers of assemblies and processions to notify the police in writing of the date and time and details of the organisers. This has not taken place."
Says The Argus report: "Notice of the demonstration has spread by word of mouth and community websites in Worthing."
In its editorial comment, it refers to a "secret" protest and claims "The Sussex Force has a good record of working with lawful protests".
The reality of the police approach to protests is, of course, rather different.
People in the past have discovered that the boys in blue want to tell them where and when they can protest, can try to limit numbers, insist on stewards being provided and even demand that organisers take out expensive public liability insurance.
The Argus article also mentions arrests at previous protests. The only arrests in fact occurred in a notorious incident in May 2002 following the 350-strong march down Titnore Lane.
Two people subsequently had their cautions wiped from the records and a woman's court case was abandoned suddenly by the CPS on November 11 2002 when her defence produced surprise video evidence of what actually happened on the day.
Police had been caught lying in a blatant attempt to get her jailed for "assaulting" them and disciplinary proceedings against one particular police officer are still ongoing today.
Coincidentally, the Argus report came out on the same day as a very relevant comment by Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert in the West Sussex County Times.
He wrote in his "Letter from the MP" column how he had voted against the Neo-Labour law curbing protests outside Parliament and said it was "a sad day for liberty" that it had been narrowly passed.
Added the MP: "Having to obtain the police's permission to demonstrate is a fundamental breach of the historic British right to peaceful free expression and protest."
It is ironic that the protest on Saturday was already being billed as a 'vigil for the death of democracy', referring to the way the development has been pushed through against the wishes of local people.
For them to now to be treated as little more than criminals for having the cheek to express their views - without gaining 'permission' from The Authorities - is to add insult to injury and is a sorry indictment on the state of this country today.
The protest will be held at 2pm on Saturday October 29 at the Titnore Lane roundabout, junction with the A259 next to Northbrook College, close to Goring by Sea station. on the main South Coast railway line between Brighton and Portsmouth and also served by London trains.

Worthing resident