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Police 'turn themselves in' over abuse of power claims

copwatch | 13.03.2009 13:08 | Repression | Social Struggles | Terror War

After yesterdays presentation in parliament of a report into the abuse of police powers during the climate camp protests at Kingsnorth in 2008, the Kent Police have taken the unusual step of reporting and turning themselves in to be investigated by the IPCC. They will investigate claims that the police engaged in a systemic campaign of phycological terror against the campers which included sleep deprivation through helicopter overflying late into the night, mock night and dawn raids by tooled up riot police, and the infamous 'Flight of the Valkyries' incident.


By Tom Pugh and Jack Doyle, Press Association

Claims that police used sleep-deprivation and other tactics to intimidate climate change demonstrators have been voluntarily referred to the police watchdog, it was announced today.

Kent Police Chief Constable Michael Fuller said they aimed to be open and transparent about their actions following last year's Climate Camp gathering in Kingsnorth.

The Liberal Democrats published a report yesterday detailing claims that activists were woken early by The Clash's I Fought The Law and Richard Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries.

Some 1,500 officers were called in from 26 forces as part of the £5.9 million policing operation but the Lib Dems described the police's actions as disproportionate.

Today, Mr Fuller said he had voluntarily referred the document to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and he will meet officials next week.

Mr Fuller said: "This document makes a number of allegations. Kent Police's policy has always been to be open and transparent in everything we do and this will be no different.

"If we find officers have failed to meet the very high standards we expect then we will act."
The report, written by lawyers Frances Wright and Phil McLeish of Camp for Climate Action, accused police of trying to disrupt the demonstration.

"Property was seized on a scale previously unheard of and in a manner designed to obstruct and undermine the very existence of the camp and intimidate attendees," they wrote.

The authors claimed that, while no Climate Camp protester had been convicted of a violent offence, police were targeting the demonstration as "domestic extremism".

They alleged: "Sleep deprivation and psychological operations were used, involving frequent dawn raids, low-flying helicopters at night, false alarm massing of police officers and vans, and early morning wake-up calls with loud music playing Ride of the Valkyries, Hi de Hi, duck and dog noises, and I Fought The Law."

Legal observers at the demonstration were denied access to individuals requesting their support, it was claimed.
Officers were also accused of using threatening behaviour to compile a systematic database of the names and addresses of attendees.

"Methods included threatening attendees with foreign accents with arrest for immigration offences and threats of arrest for theft of their own bank cards and other items," the authors said.

Responding to previous accusations of disproportionate policing measures, ministers had claimed that 70 officers were injured.

It later turned out, however, that none were sustained in clashes with demonstrators. Only 12 were reported, including such incidents as a suspected wasp sting and sunstroke.

About 1,000 demonstrators attended the camp gathering to protest against plans for a coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth in Kent last August.

Kent Police said the majority of comments about the police operation had been "wholly supportive".
A police spokesman said: "As with any major police operation we always review our procedures and protocols.
"Like any forward thinking police force we are always keen to learn and develop the way we protect the people of Kent."
An IPCC spokesman said: "The IPCC has been made aware that Kent Police are voluntarily referring this case to us.
"We are awaiting further information and documentation and Mike Franklin, Commissioner for the south east, will be meeting the Chief Constable of Kent next week to discuss how we intend to progress the investigation."