Saturday, August 11, 2007

How to deal with protests

Air travel and expansion of airports is a big deal and the development of the new terminal at Heathrow was always going to attract protestors. The way to deal with these protestors is apparently by using the Terrorism Act 2000.
Whatever the issue, people have the right to peaceful protest and of course there's a responsibility on police to ensure that it remains peaceful. Using heavy-handed laws that were introduced for a totally different scenario is not a good way of policing it. The Criminal Justice Act that was introduced in the 1990s introduced a stupidly large raft of measures to limit what protestors can and can't do. Surely there's enough legislation there to ensure that if the protests get a bit heated it can be dealt with.
And here's my beef. You give police powers to deal with situation A and there'll suddenly be situations B through Z that the new powers can suddenly be applied to. Similarly, introducing 'emergency' powers at a time of crisis. Once the emergency is over, it's very difficult to remove the powers. Labelling a young lass cycling near Heathrow a terrorist suspect and locking her up for 30 hours with no charge or right to a phone call is, frankly, ridiculous and should be a source of shame for those involved.

No comments: