Kent police admit mass stop and search policy was unlawful
Date: 29 January 2010
Climate camp protestors had a major legal victory after Kent police admitted for the first time today of operating an unlawful stop and search policy at the Climate Camp near Kingsnorth power station in August 2008. The test case was brought by 11 year old twins who were attending their first political event along with veteran campaigner Dave Morris. Following Kent’s admission, the Divisional Court went on to rule that their searches had not been lawful and had breached their privacy and protest right under Articles 8, 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act. The case is the first domestic one following Gillan v UK to hold that privacy rights are breached by a police search.
Some three thousand five hundred stop and searches were carried out at Kingsnorth pursuant to the unlawful policy. It was set out in a secret, ‘Police eyes only’ briefing document known as ‘Slide 18’ the existence of which was only revealed last Monday. Kent Police had previously argued that searching officers had individual suspicion to justify every search.
As reported by Channel 4 news:
“Lawyers for the chief constable Mike Fuller admitted to the unlawful policy and told the High Court ‘we entirely surrender’.”
The solicitor acting for the twins and Mr Morris, John Halford from Bindmans, confirmed that the unlawful policy was disseminated to all searching officers. John commented:
“The Court was rightly concerned about Slide 18. Though produced by Kent at a very late stage of this litigation, it is a gun that is still smoking. It demonstrates without doubt that Kent’s public position on this important protest and those who wished to attend was a grotesque parody of what was going on behind closed doors. Police Officers were being secretly briefed to treat everyone coming to the Climate Camp as suspected criminals, and to stop and search them accordingly. In the wake of this revelation, the Divisional Court unsurprisingly ruled that, in these test cases, stops and searches took place under this unlawful policy, and that this was a manifest breach of protest and privacy rights.”
Dave Morris commented:
“The key issue in this case is the threat of catastrophic climate change hanging over us and future generations. Everyone therefore has a duty to take immediate and effective action, including collective direct action, to transform polluting industries into sustainable ones. This issue is far too important and urgent to let ourselves be intimidated or deterred by police violence, corporate greed or government propaganda. We are all climate activists now! Together, in every community and workplace, we must work together to ensure the fastest possible transition to a sustainable low-carbon society. We call for climate action everywhere.”
Please click below to view Slide 18:
Please click below to view some related press coverage:
- Misuse of powers (ITV, 29th January 2010)
- Kent police admit 'unlawful' protest policy (Channel 4 News, 29th January 2010)
Kingsnorth Climate Camp protest policy 'unlawful' (BBC News, 29th January 2010)
Kent police admit unlawful stop and search of twins, 11 (Parent Pages, 29th January 2010)