Colchester: Concern over police handling of student protest

CONCERNS have been raised over the way a student demonstration in Colchester was handled by police officers.

Hundreds of A-Level students from local schools and colleges staged a protest in the town centre on Wednesday over the Government’s plans to increase tuition fees.

Stephen Canning, 17, a student at Colchester Sixth Form College, said: “After a peaceful sit down occupation of the High Street police began forcefully manhandling students down narrow roads and restricting exits.

“Large cordons of police officers were containing a crowd within a very limited area and protesters were prevented from leaving the area for several hours. We didn’t have access to food, water or toilet facilities for a long period.

“The demonstration was peaceful, but there’s a general feeling among the people that took part that the police were too heavy handed.

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“A second protest has been organised for Tuesday November 30 and hopefully the police will use different tactics.”

About 80 police officers, including mounted police, were called in to control the demonstration and two arrests were made on the day.

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Superintendent Glenn Maleary from Essex Police said: “Police officers worked with the organisers to facilitate their protest and insure the safety of everyone involved. We will again work with the organisers regarding any future protests.

“The students have a right to peaceful protest, however this must be balanced with maintaining normal community life for residents and workers in the town and this is what our officers are committed to achieving.”

The protests are being organised through social networking sites and an event on Facebook for a second day of action already has about 300 people saying they will participate.

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