Friday, 25 January 2013
Ian Driver Statement on Policing of Live Animal Exports at Ramsgate
I am appalled by Kent PCC, Anne Barnes, uncritical acceptance of Chief Constable, Ian Learmouth’s biased, misleading and less than truthful report into the Policing of Live Animal Exports at Ramsgate Port. The Police figure of £405,000 is plain wrong. It does not take account of logistical, intelligence gathering and legal costs. The real figure is nearer £1million. This is set to become much higher as the protests continue with no sign of an end. I have said all along that the demonstrations are massively over-policed and that a maximum of 10-15 officers could deal with the situation rather than the 30-50 we are accustomed to seeing at each the of the more than 60 sailing which have taken place over the past 18 months.
The Kent Chief Constable and the PCC Anne Barnes have justified this reckless waste of public money in a time of austerity by misleading the public about threat to law and order posed by the protestors. The arrest 15 arrests citied in the Chief Constable report include 5 arrests of export lorry drivers NOT protestors. Of the remaining 10 arrests 5 were for breached of an unfairly imposed Section 14 notice, which quite literally makes standing in the wrong part of the road illegal. Only one arrest has led to a prosecution and this was thrown on appeal with Kent Police having to pay out costs and compensation.
My friend and colleague protestor Reg Bell has written an open letter to Anne Barnes which I attach to this press release. This letter explains in detail why the Chief Constable’s report is wanting. Reg has attended every protest and he should know!
I also attach a links to a Statement made on 23 January 2013 by the United Nations which is highly critical of the UK Police in relation to peaceful assembly and association.
Finally Anne Barnes said on Radio Kent this week that she was too “high profile” to attend the regular protests at the Port.
OPEN LETTER TO ANN BARNES, KENT PCC REGARDING LIVE EXPORT PROTESTS
23rd January, 2013
Dear Mrs. Barnes,
I was disappointed to hear your comment on BBC Kent radio today that you were satisfied that the published report on the policing of the live animal exports at Ramsgate has answered the questions which you put to the Chief Constable in your open letter of 17th December. I very much welcome your desire to be open and transparent in your communication and I am sure that many applaud your use of ‘open’ letters of enquiry and published responses. In the same spirit, I will make this letter publicly available.
The report is not a complete record of policing matters relevant to Operation Wizard. It is interesting for what it doesn’t say as much as for what it does say, and some of the information it does contain is inaccurate; to begin, in Section 12.1 of the Report, it states “to date not a single complaint received by the force has been substantiated”. This is a very misleading statement. As you will be aware from documentation that I have provided to you, one of our protestors was arrested in October 2011, and charged with failure to comply with Section 14 of the Public Order Act. During the early part of 2012 he was found guilty at Folkestone Magistrates Court but determined to prove his innocence later in the summer of 2012 appealed to Crown Court at Canterbury where he was acquitted, having proven that his complaint about the way the Police had conducted themselves was well founded, and that he should never have been arrested and prosecuted. His complaint was just about as formal and comprehensive as it is possible to be, as it was made to a Judge, in Court, who went on to substantiate it. Mrs. Barnes, don’t you think it dishonest that the report makes no mention of this, including, in the list of arrests at Sect.9.1 the fact that his arrest has been omitted?
There is another reason why the claim is misleading. Complaints made about the Police haven’t yet been substantiated because the Police Complaint procedure is designed to deter complainants from following through with their complaint and is incredibly slow in operation. From the documents supplied by me you are aware that I made three separate complaints to Kent Police during 2012, none of which have yet been resolved due to delaying tactics on the of the Police, even though one complaint is now more than 1 year old. Is it any wonder that complaints are not substantiated or otherwise, when the complaint system is so unfit for purpose?
On the matter of arrests, the report is totally biased against the live export protestors. Under Section 7.2 it lists alleged instances of unlawful behaviour by protestors, but makes no mention at all of unlawful behaviour on the part of the shippers and transporters of the animals – because of this, anyone reading Sec. 9.1 would assume that the arrest dates and the reasons for arrest all relate to the protestors, but the truth is that a number of these arrests, including the most serious offence of animal cruelty which led to the slaughter on the dockside at Port Ramsgate, were arrests of the shippers/transporters, not the protestors.
The list of arrests also paints an unsatisfactory picture in that it includes arrests where no charges were subsequently pursued against those arrested. Is this fair? If wrong doing can’t be proved, the arrests mean nothing,
Up to this point in time, to the best of my knowledge, the only protestor arrested, charged and prosecuted in Court (without a successful appeal) was prosecuted for a motoring offence. The Chief Constable, of all people, should be aware that you should not accuse anyone of unlawful behaviour that “an injury was sustained by a Police Officer from an assault by a protestor during the arrival of the export lorries”. If this were true why has no one been prosecuted for this serious offence? If it can’t be proven, why is the Chief Constable quoting it? As you are also aware, we do not accept the Chief Constable’s assertion of intimidation. To intimidate someone you have to make them feel afraid of the implied consequences if they don’t do as you want. Hurling insults and loud vocal criticism is not intimidation and peacefully (i.e. without the threat of violence) entreating someone to accept your point of view isn’t intimidation either. Continuing to impose Section 14 in advance on the strength of the Chief Constable’s claims of serious intimidation will I hope be proven in Court to be untenable.
The consequences of the imposition of Section 14 in advance of every occasion is that protestors are now being arrested and criminalised for trivial reasons and Mrs. Barnes, I am surprised that you find this a satisfactory situation. The CC at Section 4.1 claims the doctrine of “firm, fair and friendly” but the details provided by me to you show that in fact on some occasions the policing has been oppressive, aggressive and certainly not friendly. There is much else that is wrong with this report, not least the inclusion at 14.1 of comments made recently in Parliament during a debate sponsored by Laura Sandys MP. Mr. David Heath MP is a politician and therefore any statement by him will naturally contain, as it does, political slant. Quoting these comments, the detail of which is disputed, has no place in what should have been an apolitical and unbiased report, but it isn’t, and your acceptance of it leaves a question mark as to your real understanding of the issues involved.
The best possible way for you to be made aware of the views on the policing of our demonstrations would be for you to meet with our protesters to discuss the issue. If you are agreeable I would be happy to organise an evening meeting to fit your schedule.
SpokesmanTHANET AGAINST LIVE EXPORTS