After listening to your interview on Radio 4’s PM, I would like to thank you for the excellent policing that I experienced at the Climate Change Camp from the men under your charge. Your policemen were truly wonderful and a true model for the type of policing that I would like to see in my street. In fact I think many areas of London and the other inner city areas elsewhere in the country would be delighted to see just a small percentage of the level of policing that you kindly provided during the week, and in particular on the day of protest.
If we had the level of policing that you provided we would never have to worry about burglaries, petty vandalism or anything else. I can only imagine the pleasing scenario, of my daughter going to the local shops and every time being escorted by at least three police officers fully equipped in riot gear. She would feel so safe. However, I have to say that strangely when your excellent chaps provided me with the same sort of protection on Sunday, I did not feel quite so safe. I work on the basis of three riot equipped police to escort my daughter to the shops, because that is about the ratio of riot police that seem to be surrounding me and the other climate change protesters.
I am delighted in the interview on Radio 4s PM that you explained that your officers had come under sustained missile attack. I now understand why your delightful men surrounded me. It was silly of me to miss the missiles that were obviously being thrown from the empty fields behind me and I must have missed the sound of the missiles landing on their helmets. I appreciate that this is an easy mistake that anyone can make in the heat of the moment.
It must have been one of these missiles that caused about nine of your officers to arrest a climate change protester just in font of me. I am so sorry if I misinterpreted your proportionate policing, because it did seem a bit brutal to me. Again we all make mistakes and I understand that in the heat of the moment your officers were scared and under the impression that we were going to attack them. That is me, an 86-year-old pensioner that I was helping, and two other protesters. If you do the maths you will realise that this is four.
When I asked the sergeant in charge what he was doing, he shouted in a somewhat threatening way for us to move back and one of his men shoved me with a riot shield. I asked if he was perhaps over reacting a bit. He said he was surrounded. I explained that there were four of us and about nine of his officers. We could try and surround him if he wanted, but it would be difficult. Fortunately, he was able to count and he seemed then to calm down. He also seemed to calm down even more when I took his photograph for my holiday snaps, which follows below. Perhaps he is just camera shy.
A few minutes later, another chap standing next to me got truncheoned over his head by one of your officers. Your officer was a strange sort of chap. He seemed rather aggressive, almost as if he enjoyed hitting things, perhaps that is one of the things that qualifies him for the job. The strangest thing of all is that he did not have number on his lapel, or on his helmet and he had a balaclava pulled right up to the bridge of his nose. So, as you can appreciate it is a bit difficult for me to describe him to you. All I can say is that he was standing next to another officer with the number 3678. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, that one of the most aggressive officers on your line had no number, or maybe I am drawing silly conclusions again. It did go through my mind that if I went into a petrol station like this I would not be served, it also stuck me as being a little strange when your web site you said “Some demonstrators were seen to cover their face.” Again, I may be have got this wrong, but it seemed to me that most of the covered faces were police faces.
I would also like to thank you for providing so much protection for the BAA offices. I realise that these offices were empty, like most offices are on a Sunday afternoon and that the protest was largely a token effort. But as you said in your interview, “You have got to believe a crime would be committed.” I would have been appalled if the BAA offices were blown up and I am quite sure that the risk of a protester carrying out a suicide attack on these empty offices would have been extremely high. After all, if you wanted to carry out a suicide attack, you would definitely choose the empty BAA offices rather than Terminal 1, where someone might get hurt.
You were also right to assume that protestors were armed and dangerous. Because you had stopped and searched just about everybody at the camp at least once, and found next to nothing, it was obvious that all the weapons were cunningly hidden and that your officers were in mortal danger. Also, you would have had no idea what the plans were because the protestors were so good at hiding from all the cameras that you had around the site, and they probably said very little to the undercover police who I am sure you must have had in the camp planning meetings. Certainly, given the rest of the policing I would be amazed if you did not have any undercover officers infiltrating the camp.
I am also delighted that you have allowed your organisation to be turned into a private army for BAA. They do after all have the right to make whatever profit they can manage irrespective of the environmental damage, and clearly a bunch of protestors who have noticed this need to be treated as dangerous terrorists. It does however seem a bit strange to me that a foreign owned company gets more protection from the police in this country than do the tax paying residents of this country. But, that is probably me being a cynical fool.
Perhaps you are just practicing for the future. The climate will get hotter in the coming years, the climate change protests will grow, the confrontations with short-term profit focused companies and the concerned population will intensify. Your position of out right and blatant support for those companies committing environment degradation will become morally untenable. To hear you acting as an apologist on the radio for your blatant over policing and the evident abuse of powers, with no media challenge, is the most damming threat to our democratic institutions and free speech that I have ever experienced, especially when virtaully all other means of democratic protest on the governements proposals have been removed and their current policies are so ill founded.
Yours Kevin Lister