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Police harass peace campaigners over convoy

An SNP MSP will write to the Chief Constable after concern was expressed about police harassment of peace campaigners who were watching the movement of Trident nuclear weapons across Scotland. Bill Kidd said: "It seems to be a waste of police time to be stopping and questioning law-abiding peace campaigners who are simply performing a legitimate public service by keeping a watchful eye on the transport of nuclear weapons along our roads. It appears that the MOD has, without good reason, requested that police officers detain peaceful nuclear disarmers by means of carrying out spurious car searches. I will be writing to the chief constable asking that this unwarranted practise should stop henceforth".  Neil Findlay MSP (Labour) also commented, "I fully support the police in their work but they have to be absolutely clear that will not prevent peaceful, law-abiding campaigners from going about their business".

Officers from Police Scotland harassed two groups of peace campaigners in Stirling.


Veronika Tudhope, Assistant Coordinator of Scottish CND, had been driving with the nuclear convoy from Hamilton. When she parked at the foot of Stirling Castle she was approached by two officers in a police car. The officers said they had been looking out for her car because it had been reported for "erratic driving". They refused to admit that it was the MOD convoy who had reported the car. 

Veronika said "I have been driving safely on Scotland's roads for more than 27 years without once attracting the attention of the police. It is puzzling and annoying that the only time I have ever been accused of erratic driving was when there was also a convoy on the road. While I can understand that cars on the road need to be checked to ensure their safety, it does feel intrusive when two police officers suddenly ask to see under my bonnet."

Meanwhile Alisdair Ibbotson of Stirling University CND was standing with a colleague at a roundabout nearby. They were approached by a police officer. He said "Right, your name and address, date of birth, place of birth and nationality. Failure to do so constitutes an offence and you may be arrested. You are formally required to provide your details." (video)

However, under the Criminal Procedures Act 1995 and Police Scotland's "Know your rights" publication a police officer can only ask for these details if he or she has reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed a crime or were a witness to a crime.  On this occasion the officers dropped their request for the campaigners details after the nuclear convoy had passed. 

Veronika's car was detained until 10 minutes after the convoy had driven by. The tactic of using Scottish police to hold up campaigners who were following the convoy was used on many occasions in the 1980s and 1990s, but has not been used in recent years. 

John Ainslie, Coordinator of Scottish CND, said:

"Police Scotland harassed several peace campaigners who were trying to draw attention to the fact that nuclear weapons are transported across the country. The police should support the Scottish Parliament and Government in their categorical rejection of Trident. We should not allow our police to be complicit in a conspiracy of silence or to reinforce the view that driving weapons of mass destruction through our towns and cities is normal and not worthy of note."

(photo shows a police officer approaching Stiring Uni CND campaigners, with a nuclear weapon transporter in the background)





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