Were eco-warriors treated unfairly?

PUBLISHED: 14:47 18 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:33 23 August 2010

CONFRONTATION: Mounted police in action

CONFRONTATION: Mounted police in action

ALLEGATIONS police intimidated climate change protesters have been passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Activists at last year s Climate Camp gathering at Kingsnorth were woken up by The Clash s I Fought The Law and the Hi-de-Hi

ALLEGATIONS police intimidated climate change protesters have been passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Activists at last year's Climate Camp gathering at Kingsnorth were woken up by The Clash's I Fought The Law and the Hi-de-Hi! theme, a report claimed.

Thousands attended the camp, including many from north Kent, in August last year to protest at plans for a new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth.

The Liberal Democrats, who presented the study to Parliament, renewed their calls for an inquiry into the policing as they outlined a series of complaints.

Protestor James Willis, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Dartford and Gravesham, attended the rally.

He said: "Kent Police usually do a fantastic job and I can say at first hand their neighbourhood policing initiative in the last few years has really improved the detection rates of crime on our streets.

"However, the heavy-handed and wasteful policing I, and many journalists, experienced on the vast majority of protesters and local residents at the climate camp was bang out order. I back fully the Lib Dem call for an inquiry.

"The policing methods used seemed to want to quash our proud British right to free speech. What a horrific waste of millions of our tax money. I call upon whoever ordered this political policing to resign."

On Friday, Chief Constable of Kent Michael Fuller voluntarily referred the document to the IPCC. He 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"

He added: "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."

Kent Police said the team responsible for playing the loud music was not from the county and, once identified, was sent back to its home force. It maintains the level of policing was fair as hardcore protestors had vowed to illegally enter the site by air, land and sea, putting lives and the power supply to 300,000 residents at risk.

But the Liberal Democrats and protesters claim policing was disproportionate and outrageous

Pete Simpson, 24, of High Street, Gravesend, said: "I was truly shocked at the illiberal way they were commanded to perform some kind of political censorship.

"On the whole during the week they acted in a threatening way, not to protect the public as they are supposed to - obviously commanded to try and put people off using our proud British right to free protest. Over £5million of taxpayers' money was wasted. I would love to know who agreed to waste our money like this."

Francis Wright, a co-author of the report and lawyer for Camp for Climate Action, said: "The camp started with searches carried out on a massive scale - in my view all unlawful.

"Everybody was searched, essentially under the 'sus' law for which you are supposed to have reasonable grounds to suspect that individual. It was stereotyping on a massive scale. We were all treated as criminals."

The report claims psychological operations were used by police, including frequent dawn raids, low-flying helicopters at night and the unnecessary massing of police officers and vans.

Kent Police has said it will make no further comment until hearing from the IPCC.

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