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Monday, December 15, 2008

Unwrapping the spin

Today's Guardian reports that last summer's week-long climate camp protest against the proposed Kingsnorth power station was not as traumatic for the police as was reported at the time:

Police were accused of using aggressive tactics, confiscating everything from toilet rolls and board games to generators and hammers. But ministers justified what they called the "proportionate" £5.9m cost of the operation, pointing out that 70 officers had been injured in the course of their duties.

But data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act puts a rather different slant on the nature of those injuries, disclosing that not one was sustained in clashes with demonstrators.

Papers acquired by the Liberal Democrats via Freedom of Information requests show that the 1,500 officers policing the Kingsnorth climate camp near the Medway estuary in Kent, suffered only 12 reportable injuries during the protest during August.

The paper goes on to reveal that only four of the 12 reportable injuries involved any contact with protesters at all and all were at the lowest level of seriousness with no further action taken:

The other injuries reported included "stung on finger by possible wasp"; "officer injured sitting in car"; and "officer succumbed to sun and heat". One officer cut his arm on a fence when climbing over it, another cut his finger while mending a car, and one "used leg to open door and next day had pain in lower back".

A separate breakdown of the 33 patients treated by the police tactical medicine unit at the climate camp shows that three officers had succumbed to heat exhaustion, three had toothache, six were bitten by insects, and others had diarrhoea, had cut their finger or had headaches.

All of this is fair enough but why spin it into a full scale riot? And how can the police justify spending £5.9 million on what was essentially a peaceful protest?
Isn't there something about taking out the fears of their betters on the bodies of their equals?
I understand that Officers in South Wales Police, during the time of the Miners Strike in the 1980s had jumpers made with the logo "Arthur Scargill paid my mortgage" in reference to the amount of overtime they were getting.

I think it's about time people realised and the police realised that they are no-longer policing by consent.
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