Westminster Abbey protest: Police launch inquiry over treatment of protesters

Image: @TheSilentAnon

By John Pring, Disability News Service

The Metropolitan police have launched an inquiry into the policing of a five-hour protest outside Westminster Abbey, apparently following allegations that officers prevented disabled activists from receiving food, drink and medication.

It is just the latest inquiry to examine how the force has dealt with disabled people who have taken part in anti-austerity protests since the coalition came to power in 2010.

Saturday’s protest at Westminster Abbey was aimed at drawing attention to the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund (ILF), and included about 10 ILF-recipients, all disabled people with high support needs.

A heavy police presence arrived minutes after activists from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) began setting up a camp on private land belonging to the abbey, with the support of the mainstream grassroots groups UK Uncut and Occupy London.

Some of the activists were not able to enter the grounds because security staff – who appeared to have been warned about the protest in advance – had already locked some of the gates.

The police presence continued to grow until there were more than 200 officers surrounding a group of about 50 protesters, about half of whom were disabled people.

One of the protestors who had been unable to enter the grounds, Robert Punton, described later in a blog how a disabled activist inside the metal railings asked Punton’s personal assistant to pass him a bag, which contained his medication.

But a police officer pushed the bag back over the fence, even though he was told it contained vital medication.

Officers also refused to allow food and water to be passed over the fence.

Read the rest of this article here.

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  1. ellie guest July 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    brass to get paid heaps for shuffling more whitewash papers …its a never ending gravy train

  2. jaypot2012 July 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    And of course the met police will be vilified as they had to be so violent due to people threatening them with needles and medication kits! Those who had them and could get to them that is…

  3. […] By John Pring, Disability News Service The Metropolitan police have launched an inquiry into the policing of a five-hour protest outside Westminster Abbey, apparently following allegations that off…  […]

  4. beastrabban July 5, 2014 at 4:38 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    It’s good that an inquiry has been set up into the conduct of the policy and their maltreatment of the DPAC protestors outside Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately, there is massive potential for it to become yet another whitewash.

  5. Leoni Al-ajeel July 5, 2014 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    Nothing will be done about it, they will come up with some excuse and sweep it under the carpet

    • Tony Dean July 5, 2014 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      I can assure you something will be done about it. There ways to complain that get taken notice of, that are also dependant on who does the complaining.
      That is as much as I am going to say on an internet forum.

  6. samedifference1 July 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on Same Difference.

  7. farmersboy July 5, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    They thought the disabled would be an easy target. A lot of the police on that day and other days looked uncomfortable and even embarrassed by what they’d been told to do, perhaps one of them will break ranks? As the message above infers ‘we aren’t going away’

  8. Methusalada July 6, 2014 at 12:37 am - Reply

    Firstly I state it is right of all to campaign. Secondly being disabled myself I realise the importance of good communications and the importance & meaning of the word! I wish to go no further on this issue as I may or could offend & that would not be a positive or productive way forward. This battle for disability rights is not over yet, sadly it isn’t even on the Parliamentary statue agenda.

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