Tuesday, 5 August 2008

KINGSNORTH: OPEN LETTER TO CHIEF CONSTABLE

Press Release - for Immediate Release
KENT GREEN PARTY

From: "Hazel Dawe" hazeldawe@bulldoghome.com

Subject: Kingsnorth open letter to the Chief Constable of Kent

Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2008 10:09:59 +0100

TO: Mike Fuller, Chief Constable, Kent Police

FROM: Dr Hazel Dawe, Chair, KENT GREEN PARTY 5th August 2008 27 Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF 01732 355185

Dear Mike Fuller,

FREEDOM TO PROTEST OR FREEDOM TO POLLUTE?
I am concerned at reports I am receiving from Green Party members at the Climate Camp near Kingsnorth power station of heavy handed policing. As Chief Constable of Kent I am assuming that you are in overall control of this operation despite the fact that apparently police from at least 24 forces across the country are involved. Please note that our MEP, Caroline Lucas, has already complained to Kent Police about the theft of utterly innocuous items from the Camp. Since when did children s crayons become an offensive weapon or various items for making the site sanitary become an issue for the police?

I note that the 1485 police officers deployed in this operation outnumbered those at the Camp by about 5 to 1 On Sunday 3rd August. This is a serious waste of taxpayers money. I also note that a Green Party London Assembly member, Jenny Jones, was obliged to complain about the 6 to 1 level of policing at the previous Climate Camp, at Heathrow last year. We object to the over-policing of a peaceful demonstration including a constant helicopter presence as illegitimate and an unjustifiable use of public funds.

One Green Party member reports feeling disgusted and upset by the police tactics being used. I am amazed and alarmed that people are being searched at one check point and handed a ticket which confirms they have been searched and this ticket ; is then being demanded at the gate to the Camp. This was not the case at the Heathrow Climate Camp which I attended in 2007. A single search at the gate was all that was deemed necessary. This would appear to be in breach of the right to freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly rights which are guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights to which this country is a signatory. Please can you explain the logic behind this overly bureaucratic and apparently intimidatory tactic?

I am informed that another Green Party member from Kent - has been assaulted by the police. He was part of a human chain which engaged in passive resistance when a large number of police attempted to enter the site of the Climate Camp without permission. I am told that the protestors did not engage in violence themselves but simply joined hands to protect the privacy of the camp itself. In turn this Green Party member was pushed by a police officer. Another Green Party member was knocked over. Police officers have claimed that they are anticipating trouble at the site. What I have been told indicates that the behaviour of certain police officers at the site is calculated to intimidate some members of the camp and to incite others. This is shameful and well below the customary standards of policing in this County.

I do hope that you, as Chief Constable of Kent, will take steps to ensure that the behaviour of the officers acting within your area remains within acceptable operational guidelines i.e. that the right of citizens of this country to peaceful protest is upheld by officers and not hindered and that no violence is instigated by police officers. At present, this is clearly not the case. Instead, a return to the unacceptable practices of the Miners Strike of 1984-85 is being enacted: practices which led to long term damage to relations between the public and the police in mining communities. I have urged those affected at the Camp to review your actions through the Police Complaints Commission, as the behaviour of police in Kent at Kingsnorth is wholly unacceptable. I expect to receive your assurances immediately that no further antagonistic or aggressive behaviour on the part of the Police will occur.

Yours faithfully, Dr Hazel Dawe, Chair,KENT GREEN PARTY

No comments: