NOTES OF MEETING BETWEEN REPRESENTATIVES
OF CLIMATE CAMP AND METROPOLITAN POLICE, 31 MARCH 2009
Present: David Howarth (DH), Mel Evans (ME),
Frances Wright (FW), Robert Broadhurst (RB), Ian Thompson (IT)
Also present: Christine Berry, James Lloyd,
two others supporting police team (names?)
ME Purpose of meeting from Climate Camp's
point of view is to explain what the Camp is about and correct
any misconceptions that might have developed.
IT Met are well aware of what Climate Camp
is, having been heavily involved with the policing of the Heathrow
RB Shouldn't believe everything you read
in the papers. The problem from the police's point of view is
that they cannot communicate with people who have decision making
power. Not interested in the background to climate camp, which
they know already: what they need to know is what's happening
on the day. If it's lawful, they will facilitate it. If it is
unlawful, they won't allow it.
ME Reports in the media have implied violence:
climate camp feel that police statements have misrepresented them.
Would like to be clear on the difference between violence and
breaking the law.
RB The police have never said that the camp
would be violent.
IT We will proportionately police whatever
you want to do.
ME Policing at the Kingsnorth camp was immensely
disproportionate. One of the reasons this was felt to be
unnecessary was that it was a clear site; similarly, the camp
on Wednesday will be a clear sitewhilst many other protests
will be dispersed around the city, the Climate Camp will be in
one place and so should be easier to police.
IT But where will this place be? If it is
on a road or pavement, the camp will be disrupting people going
about their daily business, going to work etc. The camp has chosen
probably the busiest part of the city.
ME But important to understand that there
is a political context for that choice.
FW Introduced self as part of legal team,
but not representing the camp's solicitors. Legal team had attempted
to make contact with the police, especially over the role of the
legal team itself, but had not received a response. That role
includes training legal observers; first point of concern is immense
difficulties with this at Kingsnorth, where legal observers' access
was restricted and they were threatened with arrest. Also concerned
that it is important that police liaison have free access.
IT This will be a different environment
to Kingsnorth, so it will be inherently easier to move aroundimplying
less problems with access. As long as observers are not interfering
with police operation or obstructing police, happy to let them
go about their business.
FW Is this covered in police briefings to
RB Yes, this is being addressed as we speak.
Concerned to combat media hypesome officers are young and
impressionable and read the papers. Police are with the Climate
Camp on this point. First point of the briefings is to facilitate
FW Second point: importance of police wearing
ID at all times and responding to requests for names when askedwhich
legal team understand they are obliged to do.
IT This is being dealt with. However, if
an officer is wearing ID, they do not need to give their name.
There is no legal duty to give their names to legal observers,
only to a person who is being arrested.
FW Understand this, or being searched, but
had understood that this was covered in the code of conduct. Would
like to see a copy of the code of conduct.
IT This is the same document as the general
code of conduct for England and Wales, which is publicly available.
RB Officers should give their names
when askedagree on this pointbut in reality the
situation on the ground may be tense, eg. officers with little
experience of public order situations finding themselves being
photographed and asked for their names: what campers need to do
in this situation is seek out the senior officers.
FW Agreement is good to hear. However, still
think that giving names is important for accountability. Third
point: anecdotal evidence of use of counter-terrorism powers against
people taking photographs of police officers. Would like assurance
that these powers will not be used against protesters or journalists.
RB Police have issued a press statement
saying they do not use this power against journalists. Briefings
to officers cover the proportionate use of these powers. It is
not right to use the legislation against journalists or peaceful
protesters. Problem comes when protest meets securitythe
two are "not happy bedfellows". Need to maintain security
as world leaders travel around the City. This means that sometimes
police will not be able to allow protesters to do what they would
normally allow. Police have counter-terror powers and expect to
use them, but are clear that they should not be used when other
powers are available, for instance under public order legislation.
Briefings say that the powers should not be used against photographers:
campers should have recourse to senior officers if that happens.
FW Fourth point: police liaison team will
be easily identifiable in orange bibs. How do they link in to
police command structure?
IT Each support unit (around 25 officers)
will have an inspector (two pips) on the ground. There will also
be geographic bronze commanders (three pips): for the area around
the European Climate Exchange this will be Chief Inspector Tony
Cairneyat least at the start of the operation, although
there may be some ebb and flow as the day progresses. These officers
will be identifiable by orange flashes. He should be the key point
of contact on the ground.
FW Camp have made contact with Tony Cairney.
RB There is only one commander for the overall
operation: we have control of both City police officers and transport
FW To clarify: there are no other contact
details camp needs other than yours and Tony Cairney's?
RB No. Will make it known to Tony Cairney
and others that expectation is that they will co-operate with
police liaison officers.
IT Problem is still lack of organiser. Really
irresponsible for any group to pitch up and demonstrate without
an organiser, stewards and safety liaison with the police. Contrast
with Stop the War and demonstration at weekend.
ME Need to understand that horizontality
of Climate Camp is very important to many of its members, who
have had bad experiences with more "organised" demonstrations
and feel disempowered.
FW Climate Camp has liaised historically
with the police: not the case that horizontal organisation equates
to not being able to liaise effectively.
ME To clarify: there are organising committees
in the Climate Camp structure who take responsibility for various
aspects of organising the camp. The point of the non-hierarchical
structure is that nobody in the camp can tell another protester
what to do.
RB This is a problem for the police: we
know that Heathrow was hijacked by groups which were violent and
attacked police officers. Have footage of this including people
attacking police horses.
FW Have seen this footage; perhaps we need
to sit down and watch it together. FW/ME did not accept that there
had been violent groups who infiltrated Heathrow. FW pointed out
that she had also been cordoned for four hours with the allegedly
"violent" protesters at the Heathrow camp.
IT Problem is that there are people in the
camp which we have no control over.
FW But that is the reality of any large
RB No: on the Saturday march, they could
tell people what to do: "if you are on our march, you
must play by the rules". Demo was very well organised with
no problems and very little for the police to do. "Control
your people" : it is your protestcan't be right that
you cannot tell those who attend what they can and can't do.
FW But this is just the same as your officers:
senior officers give briefings but say that cannot have total
control over the actions of individual officers.
ME It is just two different ways of moderating
behaviour: there are ways of moderating behaviour in the camp
but it is a different approach to the police hierarchy.
FW Yesand there are organisers.
IT But nobody has tried to contact the police.
FW This is untruedid try to make
contact, to request command structure etc.
IT Clearly "one for the future"
to work on improving liaison.
FW Next major concern is over facilitation
of protest. Breakdown of trust over this issue at Kingsnorth.
Concerns over the use of stop and search and seizure of personal
items, which was unacceptable.
IT If camp is something large that will
obstruct people in the City, it is not viable. There have been
no negotiations over this and therefore no chance to facilitate
itputting up big structures in this context is not feasible.
RB Do Climate Camp representatives have
any ideas as to where it will be?
FW Nodon't have that information
yet, but do have ideas about places where it could be done safely.
Do police have any ideas about where they would like it to be?
IT/RB It's 24 hours away nowtoo
late for this.
FW But can police give assurances that
search and seizure policy at Kingsnorth will not be repeateditems
like tents, bunting etc will not be seized?
IT Stop, search and seizure could easily
happen tomorrow, because police are trying to stop offences being
committed. If attempting to set up camp in the middle of a road,
this is clearly not viable and will cause disruption, so items
may be seized. Not many places in the City where it is possible
to set up a camp for 1,000 people. If on private land, may
not have legal right to be there.
FW Where is possible for you?
IT/RB Climate Camp needs to talk to landowners
ME To clarifynot here to have the
kind of meeting police might have had with Stop The War two months
in advance. Main issues Climate Camp wants to talk about are around
police accusations of violence, use of tasers, etc.
IT Police will not be using tasers. Tasers
are never used on public order operationsthis claim was
totally fabricated by the Sunday Times, or was it the Guardian.
TSG (territorial support group) officers, who carry tasers, will
be on stand by, but will not be deploying tasers.
RB Tasers will not be deployed. Have never
said that Climate Camp will be violent: accept and know that the
camp is a peaceful organisation, although may have disagreements
over whether "violent" fringes have infiltrated it in
the past, as at Heathrow. Briefings, which are auditable after
the event, clearly say that officers should not expect a punch
up. However, a point will come where police will say protesters
cannot do what they want to do. Question is where you are going
to put a 1,000 person camp, without any planned space for
ME Important to acknowledge that none of
us around the table know exactly what's going to happen. Although
the police are apolitical, need to understand the political situation
in which this protest takes place. Campers understand pleas for
lawful protest, but need to grasp the situation they are in, where
we have an urgent situation with climate change which the government
is failing to deal with. This leaves people who want to protest
"in a fix."
IT Police understand thatand it leaves
police in a fix as well, needing to preserve their absolute duty
to uphold the law and balance rights of City workers with rights
FW It is precisely a question of balance,
but would suggest that in this situation the balance should favour
RB Yes, but if police do that they could
end up getting sued by City firms for letting protesters break
the law. In a no-win situation.
DH Pointed out that he wrote the textbook
on this and police should have no problem with liability!
FW Camp very much hope that everyone can
be kept in one place.
RB If they can find anywhere that is acceptable
to everyone, then that will happen.
IT Asked what contact the Climate Camp has
had with the four horsemen demonstration. Could be impact between
the two demonstrations on the day.
FW Camp has given people specific advice
to avoid the area where the four horsemen are converging, and
arrival time for Climate Camp is later than convergence time for
the meltdown demonstration.
IT But if meltdown protesters move, could
still be possible for Climate Camp to get caught up with them.
ME Think it is likely they will stay where
they are and will not want to move away from the banks to the
FW In any case, nobody has heard of the
European Climate Exchange, where the camp is happeningpart
of the reason for the protest!
DH The important question is one of proportionality.
If the police's view is that stopping one vehicle getting through
is worth stopping a one-off protest for, that may be hard subsequently
to justify. Question to police: are they controlling traffic in
the City anyway? If this is the case, the point about City workers
getting to work is not an issue.
IT Since police do not know where things
are going to happen, cannot do anything in terms of traffic control
or getting info out to the community. Repeated point that it was
irresponsible on the part of the camp that police could not have
dialogue with organisers who were able to negotiate over exact
RB Concluding points: police are grateful
for the dialogue, but still don't know where camp will be and
whether it will have legal right to be there, which is the key
point for them. Want to facilitate protest, have worked with Climate
Camp before, but must also minimise disruption to the life of
the community and manage the intersection where protest meets
security. Can't allow protests to get in the way of this. Have
had letters from some foreign delegations asking for assurances
that police will prevent protests anywhere near their premiers,
and police have refused to give such assurancesbut still
need to ensure world leaders are able to safely get from A to
B, which in the context of managing the protests will be a strain.
FW Are world leaders expected to go down
Bishopsgate, since this is not where talks are being held?
RB Nobut may be that some leaders
will have legitimate business there or elsewhere in the City,
and besides, knock on effects of protests may cause security headaches.
But police really do understand where protesters are coming from
and passion they have for their cause.
FW On question of legal right to be there,
police will obviously be aware that Climate Camp has historically
squatted land. Had herself been dubious about this initially,
but at Kingsnorth came to see why it would be extremely foolish
for them to do otherwise, since police had consistently interfered
with lawful contracts.
DH That is a tort.
FW Level of trust is clearly low, and hope
this will be an opportunity to start rebuilding.
RB Hope this meeting is a step towards that.