Kettling of children at tuition fees protest challenged

Students from Acland Burghley School said they were contained for about eight hours during the protest

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Three north London schoolchildren are challenging the Metropolitan Police's decision to 'kettle' pupils during the tuition fees protests in Whitehall.

Up to 60 pupils joined the protest on 24 November, where the students said they were contained for about eight hours.

Sam Eaton and Adam Castle, both in Year 11, and Adam's younger sister claim the police action infringed their human rights and the Children Act 2004.

The Met refused to comment on the case.

The police force has previously defended its use of the containment tactic.

In April the High Court, ruling in a case brought by two activists relating to the G20 London protests in 2009, said there was "no reasonable" justification for kettling.

The Met said it would not comment on the latest case as it plans to appeal against the decision in the G20 case.

Children 'demoralised'

The children will tell the High Court that kettling broke the laws of the European Convention of Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children Act 2004, "mainly the right to protest and the safety of children".

Adam, 16, said the children had been given permission by their parents to attend the protest, but the group had been kettled within an hour of arriving, "with no food and very little water".

Tuition fees protest Thousands of students protested against plans to raise university tuition fees

He said: "Everyone was just cold, huddling up together, people just squeezing up to keep warm.

"It seemed like a punishment to go on protest and everyone was just demoralised.

"As children we can't vote, so one of the best ways for us to voice our opinion is through protest and if that's stopped or inhibited by kettling then where are we left?"

Roy Ramm, the former commander of specialist operations at the Met, said when protests descend into violent disorder the police have to contain it to avoid damage and disruption.

He said: "It's very clear when you see other demonstrations that have got out of hand... they have descended into violent attacks all over the place and quite frankly the police are left with no alternative but to contain those mobs."

He also said there had been previous challenges in the High Court to but "providing the tactics on the day are necessary and proportionate they have been held up as lawful".

The case is due to be heard in the court in July.

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