London Indymedia

Police powers finally kettled by High Court

Netpol (repost) | 19.06.2013 10:49 | Other Press | Policing | Repression | London

For years it has been common practice for protesters held in a kettle (police containment) to be forced to submit to police filming and/or provide their details as a condition of leaving. There have been countless incidents in which protesters who have tried (lawfully) to refuse these demands have been threatened with arrest, or told they could not leave the kettle.

Photographer in action.
Photographer in action.

This should now change, as the High Court ruled yesterday, the police have no powers to force people to give their details, or comply with police filming and photography, simply because they are held in a kettle. Lord Justice Moses criticised police practice in no uncertain terms. He stated,

It is unacceptable that a civilian photographer on instruction from the police should be entitled to obtain photographs for investigation and crime investigation purposes…as the price for leaving a containment. Although the common law has sanctioned containment it has done so in only restricted circumstances. It was not lawful for the police to maintain the containment for the purposes of obtaining identification, whether by questioning or by filming. It follows that it was not lawful to require identification to be given and submission to filming as the price for release.

The case was taken by Susannah Mengesha, who had attended a demonstration called by Occupy/UKUncut in Picadilly after a trade union march in 2011. Susannah was there as a legal observer, and became caught in a kettle the police imposed after protesters had moved to the headquarters of Xstrata, a mining corporation in nearby Panton Street.

After a lengthy period of time, the police containment manager decided it was no longer likely that there would be an ‘imminent breach of the peace’ and began a ‘controlled dispersal’. Protesters were funneled through lines of police officers to a dispersal point where they were stopped and searched then allowed to leave. Before reaching this point, however, people were forced to undergo close-up filming by police cameramen, and were told they must provide a name and address or face arrest.

Both Susannah and other legal observers recorded that the police had told protesters they were using section 50 of the Police Reform Act. This gives police powers to demand details on threat of arrest, where they reasonably believe a person has been engaging in anti-social behaviour.

In court, the police denied using this power, presumably aware of the difficulties in asserting that a peaceful protest equated to anti-social behaviour. Instead they tried to defend their actions by claiming that protesters gave their name and address and submitted to filming voluntarily. A police video was given to the judges to evidence that Susannah had complied freely – but Lord Justice Moses considered that “the video showed the contrary”.

Susannah has stated that she is ‘very happy’ with the judgement, which should change the way the police operate. She has also forced the police to remove any record of her attendance that night from their databases. She said,

I am deeply concerned by the increasing criminalisation of protest. I do not accept that by choosing to express political dissent people automatically volunteer away their rights to personal privacy and freedoms. Freedom of protest is under relentless attack from the state. Under the new legal aid reforms, protest law judicial review cases such as mine, which are usually the last refuge against oppressive state behaviour, would not have been possible.

Any other protesters wishing to remove data collected in similar circumstances are invited to contact Netpol or their lawyers for advice. To contact Netpol in strictest confidence, e-mail info[at] with a contact telephone number.

Netpol (repost)
- Homepage:


Hide the following 2 comments

brilliant news

19.06.2013 11:00

i hope this means the days of the kettle are numbered.


Sednding phone numberss securely

19.06.2013 15:26

I agree that this is great news. Well done to those who fought this.

The article says "Any other protesters wishing to remove data collected in similar circumstances are invited to contact Netpol or their lawyers for advice. To contact Netpol in strictest confidence, e-mail info[at] with a contact telephone number."

This provides a wonderful opportunity for NSA/GCHQ to scoop up information on campaigners and pass it on to the forces of darkness like the police. I assumed that Ietpol would have a GPG public key for people to use to encrypt phone numbers and so keep them out of the hands of the enemy, but I have just looked at the key servers and Netpol web site and not found one. If I was one of the victims the last thing I would do is email a phone number, the phone itself (not just the phone number) would be compromised and could no longer be used.

A N Other


South Coast

Other UK IMCs
Bristol/South West
Northern Indymedia

London Topics

Animal Liberation
Climate Chaos
Energy Crisis
Free Spaces
Ocean Defence
Other Press
Public sector cuts
Social Struggles
Terror War
Workers' Movements

London IMC


About | Contact
Mission Statement
Editorial Guidelines
Publish | Help

Search :