Police arrest 100 at climate camp

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The Independent Online

Police arrested 100 protesters and charged 46 of them during a week-long protest against climate change, it was revealed today.

Speaking at a press conference this morning Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said the majority of arrests at the Camp for Climate Action were for obstruction and public order offences.

But he said that there were also a number of people at the camp in fields close to Kingsnorth power station near Hoo, Kent, who were arrested for more serious offences such as assaulting police officers and possessing bladed instruments.

He said that while the majority of protesters were peaceful and law abiding, a number of people were "intent on causing trouble."

He said: "While there were those involved in the protest who were sensible and responsible, there were also those clearly intent on breaking into the power station to shut it down."

Four people were arrested after they managed to get inside the power station during a mass day of action on Saturday, and a further 19 climbed over the perimeter fence but a spokesman for E.ON, which owns the plant, said the protesters had not affected its power output.

Mr Beautridge denied claims from protesters of heavy-handedness among some of the 1,400 police officers from 26 forces who were deployed to the camp over the past week.

"Our policy was that policing was proportionate to this threat" he said.

"The decision to deploy specialist units including dogs and horses is always considered carefully. Because of the level of resistance, officers were authorised to carry batons during two days of the protest.

"There are strict legal standards for their use and we gave clear warnings when any specialist team was deployed, which is our policy. Those intent on breaking the law had the choice and opportunity to stop."

But a spokesman for the Climate Camp said that there had been "widespread condemnation" of tactics used by police during the event.

Kevin Smith said: "Our legal team are going to be exhausting every possible channel for holding the police accountable for the draconian use of stop and search measures, for the things they confiscated, and for their violent incursions on to the camp.

"Every year police use the supposed existence of a hardcore minority as justification for their heavy-handedness and every year this hardcore minority fails to materialise."

He added that while the majority of protesters left yesterday, at least 100 protesters have remained on site today to clear up after the 3,000 people that they estimate to have visited it at some point over the last week.

Mr Smith said: "They are very happily getting on with the business of returning the field to the state in which they found it."

Mr Beautridge added that Kent Police will investigate any complaints about the policing of the event.

He said: "If we find evidence that anyone has acted inappropriately or failed to demonstrate the standards we set and expect, Kent Police and partner police forces will address this."

Kent Police and the Kent Police Authority will be contacting the Home Office to discuss a rebate towards the cost of policing the protest, which is estimated to currently stand at several million pounds, he said.

Of the 100 people arrested since last Sunday, 46 were charged, 22 were cautioned, three people were bound over to keep the peace and one person was found to be in breach of their bail, police said.