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Police had ‘no evidence’ to restrict live export campaigners, says IPCC

PUBLISHED: 11:43 28 November 2014

Sheep on trucks en route to Ramsgate port

Sheep on trucks en route to Ramsgate port

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Report followed complaint by animal right campaigner

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission has upheld an appeal from an animal rights campaigner regarding Kent Police’s treatment of live animal export protestors at Ramsgate port.

The complaint by Reg Bell claimed that police unfairly imposed a section 14 order on protestors in order to ‘corral’ them into a small holding area during a protest in 2012.

Section 14 involves anyone taking part in a protest having to remain in a designated area.

It can only be imposed if a senior police officer believes serious damage to property or other people, or unlawful acts or intimidation could take place as a result of the protestors’ activity.

The IPCC felt that former chief constable Ian Learmouth, who retired from Kent police in January, did not have grounds to impose the order.

A spokesman said: “The IPCC upheld an appeal from Mr Bell against the former Chief Constable of Kent Police’s use of section 14 orders to place restrictions on protests about live exports from the port of Ramsgate.

“It found the former Chief Constable arguably lacked a reasonable belief that it was the purpose of the organisers of the protest to intimidate, which is necessary to impose a section 14 order.

“The IPCC requested the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner raised the issue of the use of section 14 orders with a suitable person responsible for public order in Kent Police, to ensure that any future restrictions on protests are properly imposed.”

Assistant chief constable of Kent police, Jo Shiner, said: “We have continued to engage with protest groups, the ports, and other relevant agencies in our efforts to ensure the facilitation of both the export activity and the right to peacefully protest. The port is incredibly busy, and can be dangerous place.

“The use of the Section 14 order allows people their lawful right to protest without putting themselves or officers in danger.”

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