Sergeant Craig Kirk, Avon & Somerset police, Inspector Bruce Turnbull, Avon & Somerset police, Andreas Speck, Stop New Nuclear, Angie Zelter, Stop New Nuclear.
The meeting took place in the Tobacco factory in Bristol. Both Andreas and Angie took notes.
Inspector Bruce Turnbull introduced himself. He normally works as a negotiator, and on the days of the demonstration in Bridgwater and blockade at Hinkley he will be our communication channel to Ch Supt Tilley, who will be silver commander. The bronze commander will be Ch Insp Paul Richards.
After introductions, Sergeant Craig Kirk explained the operational guidelines of Ch Supt Tilley. They read them out to us but we were not allowed to have a written copy:
- police to facilitate right to peaceful protest
- aware of element of blockading
- maintain the peace
- protect security of staff and nuclear licensed site
- they will not use police vehicles to transport EDF staff
- general principle of “no surprises”, so they would communicate their policing.
Nonviolence and Emergency Vehicles
We again stressed the non-violence guidelines for the blockade, and asked for a clear commitment not to use pressure points to clear a blockade and if lifting people to use 4 police to remove them safely.
Initially, they did not give a clear statement. However, after discussion they stated that it wouldn't be pressure points straight away but they could not say they would not use pressure points in some circumstances. We said there was no justification for using any painful or rough treatment to get people to move as our nonviolent guidelines and our trainings showed our commitment to safety and we obviously did not want anyone put in danger by our actions. We said it was not fair either to us or to their own police force to be vague what circumstances might indicate the need to use 'pain compliance' and we outlined our own experience of different police behaviour and confusion. We repeated that we did not foresee and need for pain compliance. We requested that they draw up clear guidelines on use of “pain compliance” (their term for pressure points), a message they are taking back to Ch Supt Tilley and they will let us know by email what these guidelines are.
In the process of discussing the above we had more discussions about emergency vehicles, and we pointed to the non-violence guidelines, which state that the blockade would be cleared for emergency vehicles, but not for police. We had a more detailed discussion about possible criteria for when police might need to get through (e.g. an accident at Hinkley, which has safety implications). When asked, we again stated that getting arrested people out of Hinkley and into a police station would not be considered an emergency situation. If, however, there was a serious accident at the power station and we could trust each other and the police were honest about the serious nature of this and the necessity for police to get in and out of Hinkley then we were sure everyone would move to allow police access too. Inspector Bruce Turnbull said that this would be a matter of trust, and that he won't lie to us, but communicate the information he has.
We emphasised that this 'trust' about communicating if there was real need for a police vehicle to get inside must not be abused as it would hamper our future co-operation as the campaign of direct action continues over the coming months. We explained that if there was a nuclear accident and people's safety was at risk, and police needed access for these reasons alone, then our guidelines would help ensure that groups would be able to make a quick decision to clear the blockade. We explained our spokescouncil procedure and that groups had practiced quick decision making, would always break the blockade for fire or ambulances and also in special circumstances for police. The blockade would break and then re-instate itself after the vehicles had gone through. We stated that we expected the police to trust us to do this and we would trust them to allow us back into our previous blockading positions after the situation was resolved. This mutual respect would allow us to co-operate on serious safety and security issues.
We discussed 'agents provocateurs' or random violence and explained our process for hand in the air, silence and isolating the violent incident and explained that we preferred to deal ourselves with these kinds of incidents. When questioned we said that if we could not deal with it or if a 'terrorist' turned up we would obviously get help from whoever we could to deal with this, including the police. We would assume that they would deal with any 'rogue' police themselves and that we would report any such incidents for them to deal with.
We asked for and were reassured that police photographers would keep their distance and that the atmosphere would be low-key and that all police would have their numbers showing and would be prepared for us to photograph them too. Bruce was going to come to the events in civilian clothing but we suggested that it would be better if he were not seen as 'undercover' but was obviously a police communicator so he will either be in uniform or with a police tabard on.
We asked again about a safe space for non-arrestables, and they again stressed the “no surprises” approach, and that a warning would be given and that as there is a public footpath right beside the main gate there would be plenty of room for demonstrators there.
They asked once more whether we knew if other entrances would be blockaded and we reiterated that we were only facilitating and advertising for a blockade of the main gate from 7a.m. They mentioned that the police from Devonport had been in contact and told them that a previous blockade there had started long before the scheduled start time! We re-iterated that we were communicators and facilitators, that each group was autonomous, there were no leaders (even if they found this hard to believe!), and each individual and group made their own decisions within the nonviolent guidelines, and there would be a spokescouncil to decide the finishing time on the day. We (Andreas and I) were planning to be in place by 7 a.m. to provide support to the groups taking part . We asked when they would be there! It seems that they will be in position well before 7a.m.
They were worried that demonstrators would enter the power station and we said we thought this unlikely. We also said that there might come a time when we organised a mass trespass but that if we were planning to do this we would be very careful to do good research and work out how to avoid certain dangerous areas and to ensure that we did not create the very accidents that we were concerned about and trying to prevent by ending the UK reliance on nuclear power. It would be quite obvious from our website if we were organising this kind of thing. They several times mentioned they were pleased to see on our website our commitment to nonviolnce.
Parking and Toilets
Sergeant Craig Kirk explained that EDF will provide parking in a field on the left side of Wicks Moor Drove, about 200-300m before the main gate. EDF is putting hardcore down, but this will probably not be suitable for coaches. If not suitable, then coaches will need to drop off passengers and park somewhere back in a lay-by further away. Police are likely to use the lay-bys between the parking area and the main gate but on the day we can ask if our wheelchair users (probably) and media van (probably not) could park closer in one of these lay-bys as this may be possible.
The police will have signs and/or police a bit before on the main road to slow down traffic. Also, at the entrance to the parking area there will be two police officers and one supervisor directing traffic. We explained that it is important that they are low key, and are not seen as a potential block– e.g. as preventing people from getting to the main gate, as then they might get a blockade at these points, which none of us want.
EDF will also provide two portaloos at the parking place. We asked about 1 being wheelchair accessible and they will ask EDF about that.
The police stations are still likely to be Bridgwater, Taunton, Weston Super Mare and Yeovil. They were concerned about possible secondary protests outside these police stations but we said these were unlikely if people were released in a reasonable time and if police stations communicated accurately with our legal support team when people would be released. We would have a vehicle to pick people up as they were released and that it was likely that people would wait at the police station until the vehicle was full.
We again briefly went through the Bridgwater demonstration on 1 October, and explained our assembly point (Kings Square) and the closing rally on Cornhill, where there will be speeches and music. We said we thought that a police presence was not needed at the demonstration. The police offered to help with traffic control on the march but we said we did not think it would be necessary. The police communicator, Bruce, would in any case be there.
Angie gave her mobile phone number and Bruce gave his so that they could be in communication as and when needed. These telephone numbers are not to be abused and we will pass on Bruce's number only to our police liaison team as necessary.