Police to use terror laws on Heathrow climate protesters

Armed police will use anti-terrorism powers to “deal robustly” with climate change
protesters at Heathrow next week, as confrontations threaten to bring major delays
to the already overstretched airport.   Up to 1,800 extra officers will be drafted
in to prevent an estimated 1,500 people disrupting the airport over the period
of the camp for climate change, which is due to begin on Tuesday.  

The police have been told to use stop and search powers against the protesters,
who have pledged to take direct action on August 18 and 19 but not to endanger
life.   “Should individuals or small groups seek to take action outside of lawful
protest they will be dealt with robustly using terrorism powers. This is because
the presence of large numbers of protesters at or near the airport will reduce
our ability to proactively counter the terrorist act [threat],” a Met police document

The police report makes it clear that the government has encouraged police forces
to make greater use of terrorism powers “especially the use of stop and search
powers under s44 Terrorism Act 2000”.   The civil rights group Liberty said it
was alarmed at the police use of the anti-terrorism powers to deter peaceful protest.    
The Guardian has established that at least two climate change campaigners have
been arrested recently at Heathrow by officers using terrorism powers.   Cristina
Fraser, a student, was stopped when cycling near the airport with a friend and
then charged under section 58 of the Terrorism Act. This makes it an offence to
make a record of something that could be used in an act of terrorism.

The law gives police powers to:

· Stop and search people and vehicles for anything that could be used in connection
with terrorism

· Search people even if they do not have evidence to suspect them

· Hold people for up to a month without charge

· Search homes and remove protesters’ outer clothes, such as hats, shoes and

(Guardian 11.8.2007)