G8 Legal Support Group's initial statement on the policing of the G8 protests in Scotland, July 2005

From Black Flag #205 (2005)

Submitted by Fozzie on July 12, 2021

During the protests against the G8 over 700 people were detained or arrested by the police, often overnight, and around 366 people have been arrested and charged. The courts have imposed draconian bail conditions, which not only prevented those arrested from continuing their protests against the G8 summit, but forced those not resident in Scotland to leave at an impossible speed, making the conditions impossible to comply with. As a direct result of this tactic, sonic people were rearrested for breach of bail. People unable to give an address in the UK have been remanded in prison, even though in all the cases we are aware of, none faces serious enough charges to result hi a prison sentence even if convicted. Amongst those remanded in custody was one person aged 16 and a woman with a child.

We have also received worrying reports of people being held for over 4 hours in Reliance security vans against regulations, and not being given sufficient food or water while in custody. For example, one person reported that they were held in Sterling police station for 10 hours and that they were verbally abused, the lights were switched on and off and no calls were made to solicitors or friends on his behalf. He was subsequently released without arrest or charge.

The police made widespread use and abuse of powers under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994. This section is supposed to be used to search for weapons. However, it has been used as a blanket authority to stop and search in a manner designed simply to intimidate protesters. For example, everyone attending the protest at Dungavel Detention Centre was subject to a bag search. At the Hori-zone ecovillage in Stirling, the police at times searched everyone who came and went. At least two people have been charged with failing to submit to a search.

The police routinely demanded people's names and addresses, without a clear legal right to such information and in a manner that seemed calculated to deter people from protesting. At times they also demanded to see identification, despite the fact that there is no requirement to carry or produce identification in the UK. At least one person was arrested and faces trial for simply not giving their name and address.

Huge numbers of people were photographed and/or filmed just for participating in protests or because they were staying at a campsite, again a form of policing designed to intimidate.

The police also often placed protesters in cordons, the legality of which is still uncertain, detaining people for many hours. At the Hori-zone ecovillage in Stirling for long periods of time the police refused to let anyone leave. Legal Observers from the G8 Legal Support Group were also detained, preventing us from monitoring some of the protests. No legal justification was provided for this abuse of power. The police also banned protests. They cancelled the G8 Alternatives demo at Gleneagles "for reasons of public safety” and this led to coaches of protesters being held on a roundabout eleven miles away from Auchterarder for an hour. Eventually the protest was allowed to go ahead. On this and other days many protesters were arrested whilst travelling to protests and held for alleged conspiracy. At Waverley train station in Edinburgh people were prevented from holding a spontaneous protest against the ongoing 'war on terror'.

A number of protesters were injured by the police hitting out with batons. Most suffered head injuries. Many of the police on duty routinely covered up their identification numbers, making it impossible to identify them.

The public were prevented from attending some sheriffs' courts, meaning that people had to face the court without support from friends. Apparently, the reason was that there may be protests at Court, although there had been no actual protests, just groups of concerned friends. This flies in the face of the long-established legal right to an open hearing in court.

Finally, we note that this was one of the largest policing operation ever seen in the UK. The state was clearly prepared to devote unlimited resources to it, all with the sole aim of preventing the leaders of the G8 of being aware of the popular discontent with their policies and the effect of those policies on the vast majority of the world's population.

The cumulative effect of these police measures was an unprecedented erosion of civil and human rights and a further attack on the right of people to publicly demonstrate. The police appeared to police the protests against the G8 on the basis that they were not at all times bound to comply with the law of the land and sought to prevent challenge to their actions by seeking to conceal their identity by covering up ID and failing (even when asked specifically) to give legitimate reasons and legal powers to justify their actions. For these reasons we unreservedly condemn the policing of the protests at the G8 summit in Scotland in July 2005.