A new report about the policing of the recent Camp for Climate Action at Kingsnorth was launched yesterday by, Liberal Democrat Shadow Justice Secretary, David Howarth 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 music and alarms 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
· Harrassment 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 the young, elderly and people with disabilities
Commenting, 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 protestors 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 me 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 - the greatest challenge of our age - 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.'
Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said:
“The harassment of thousands of protestors 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.”