Tag Archive: kettle


VOAG Logo (Brick)5High Court rules the police have no powers to force people to give their details, when held in a kettle.

From Netpol.org, June 2013
For years it has been common practice for protesters held in a kettle (police containment) to be forced to submit to police filming and/or provide their details as a condition of leaving.  There have been countless incidents in which protesters who have tried (lawfully) to refuse these demands have been threatened with arrest, or told they could not leave the kettle.   

This should now change, as the High Court has today ruled that the police have no powers to force people to give their details, or comply with police filming and photography, simply because they are held in a kettle. Lord Justice Moses criticised police practice in no uncertain terms.  He stated,

It is unacceptable that a civilian photographer on instruction from the police should be entitled to obtain photographs for investigation and crime investigation purposes…as the price for leaving a containment. Although the common law has sanctioned containment it has done so in only restricted circumstances.

It was not lawful for the police to maintain the containment for the purposes of obtaining identification, whether by questioning or by filming. It follows that it was not lawful to require identification to be given and submission to filming as the price for release.

 The case was taken by Susannah Mengesha, who had attended a demonstration called by Occupy/UKUncut in Picadilly after a trade union march in 2011.  Susannah was there as a legal observer, and became caught in a kettle the police imposed after protesters had moved to the headquarters of Xstrata, a mining corporation in nearby Panton Street. 

After a lengthy period of time, the police containment manager decided it was no longer likely that there would be an ‘imminent breach of the peace’ and began a ‘controlled dispersal’.  Protesters were funneled through lines of police officers to a dispersal point where they were stopped and searched then allowed to leave.  Before reaching this point, however, people were forced to undergo close-up filming by police cameramen, and were told they must provide a name and address or face arrest. 

Both Susannah and other legal observers recorded that the police had told protesters they were using section 50 of the Police Reform Act.  This gives police powers to demand details on threat of arrest, where they reasonably believe a person has been engaging in anti-social behaviour.

In court, the police denied using this power, presumably aware of the difficulties in asserting that a peaceful protest equated to anti-social behaviour.  Instead they tried to defend their actions by claiming that protesters gave their name and address and submitted to filming voluntarily.  A police video was given to the judges to evidence that Susannah had complied freely – but Lord Justice Moses considered that “the video showed the contrary”.

Susannah has stated that she is ‘very happy’ with the judgement, which should change the way the police operate.  She has also forced the police to remove any record of her attendance that night from their databases. She said,

I am deeply concerned by the increasing criminalisation of protest. I do not accept that by choosing to express political dissent people automatically volunteer away their rights to personal privacy and freedoms.

Freedom of protest is under relentless attack from the state. Under the new legal aid reforms, protest law judicial review cases such as mine, which are usually the last refuge against oppressive state behaviour, would not have been possible.

Any other protesters wishing to remove data collected in similar circumstances are invited to contact Netpol or their lawyers for advice.  To contact Netpol in strictest confidence, e-mail info[at]netpol.org with a contact telephone number.Egypt, Syria, London, Liverpool, Birmingham: Join The Resistance!

A VOAG Reader’s March 26th, TUC Protest Report.

It was an impressive show of strength for trades unionism in Britain with 500,000 people heeding the TUC call to demonstrate. Anyone who thought trades unions were dated or irrelevant should think again.

It was the largest demonstration I’ve ever witnessed, but also the quietest. There was very little chanting and the march moved very slowly. The demonstration was so large that those at the front of the march arrived at Hyde Park, the finish point, several hours before others had even started. The TUC was showcasing its “modern trades unionism”. Gone was the sea of red and brass bands- and in its place was a multicoloured, blue, yellow and purple river of people. This was “family-friendly trades unionism”.

I walked quicker than the march. I wanted to see as much of it as possible. Every so often I passed a samba band or individuals in fancy dress. There were small clusters of ‘black blockers’. They were not engaged in direct actions and many appeared to be wearing masks as nothing more than a  “protest fashion”.

I saw no confrontations along the march itself. Whilst the demonstration was still progressing, splinter groups were defacing shops in Oxford Street. However most protesters weren’t aware of what was happening in other parts of the City.

I stopped for a break at Trafalgar Square. College students had made a ten foot wooden horse and were parading it around the square. An hour later I watched them set it on fire in the middle of Oxford Circus. Once I reached Hyde Park, I took a walk down Oxford Street. I saw paint splattered windows and the remains of small fires on the road, but the confrontations that had accompanied the limited damage had died down- or had moved on.
I turned towards Trafalgar Square. As I reached the Square, I came across a sound system on a trailer being pulled by a bicycle. It was travelling up the Mall in the opposite direction. A dozen people were following it, dancing as they went. It was playing a mixture of drum and base and dub-step, with an MC chanting through a microphone. I turned around and followed it up the Mall, back towards Oxford Street.

As the sound system made its way to Oxford Street, many others started to follow the sound system. In no time, there were two thousand youth behind us. Dancing, and chanting along with the music. Shoppers and bystanders looked on totally bemused.

This was a different kind of demonstration. Vibrant, energetic, but entirely peaceful. Those that controlled the microphone constantly reminded all those that followed: “This is a peaceful demonstration” and “we are not here to be violent or to vandalise”. Two thousand of us danced up the street chanting along with the music: “Down with the government down” and “One solution revolution”.

We made our way back to Hyde Park, and after a short break turned around, to return once more to Trafalgar Square.

The routes back to the Square were blocked by police –and what followed was a cat and mouse game through side streets to get around the police blocks. We eventually squeezed down an alley and into the Square to be met by cheers and applause from those already there.

We came to a stop beneath Trafalgar’s lions, music still pumping- and there we stayed. As the evening drew-on our numbers thinned to around five hundred. Groups were sitting round small fires, chatting and sharing food and wine. Many people were sitting on the steps in front of the National Gallery, listening to the music. Police were wandering around the square, but keeping a low profile- and were generally friendly.

At 11pm, a hundred riot police appeared on the North side of the square, by the side of the National Gallery. Without warning they charged into the people sitting on the stairs, kicking and hitting them with their shields and batons. As the people fled, those that were hit or were slower, were herded into one corner and detained.

More police appeared at the southern side of the square, behind Nelson’s Column. Without warning they charged at the people who were either dancing or sitting around. As police lines formed, to encircle the entire square and to “kettle” all those inside; a few of us managed to escape to the last train back to Guildford.

NOTE:
Video Report on the March (Not the author)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zii2qzGbaM&feature=player_embedded

For another account of Trafalgar Square:
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2011/03/trafalgar-square-police-young