City of London Police pay-out to G20 protesters but take 18 months to remove personal data from national database
Eleven members of the protester group, Space Hijackers, have secured over £60,000 in damages from the City of London Police for false imprisonment, assault, and breaches of the Human Rights Act during the G20 protests in April 2009.
Each protester has received between: £4,650 – £7,050 and an agreement from the police that their names and biometric data would be removed from police records. However, the solicitor acting for the eleven protestors says that it has taken over 18 months for the removal because the two forces couldn’t agree who owned the data.
The eleven protesters were charged with impersonating a police officer contrary to s90(1) Police Act 1996, and wearing police uniform with intent to deceive contrary to s90(2) Police Act 1996 and bailed to appear at City of London Magistrates Court in September 2009. All protestors pleaded not guilty and a trial was scheduled for February 2010.
However, with two weeks to go before trial, all charges were dropped against the eleven protestors because “there was not enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.”
Since then the protestors’ solicitor, Susie Labinjoh, a civil liberties partner at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen has been trying to get the police to remove the names from the Police National Computer (PNC) and to delete their biometric data. She explains: “There has been an ongoing wrangle between the arresting forces, Metropolitan Police and City of London Police as to who was responsible for owning the DNA, fingerprints and photos, ensuring that local records were destroyed and that the PNC records were deleted. In the end we had to obtain consent to the destruction from both forces as neither could decide who owned the data. It took over 18 months before the records were finally removed.”
A statement on the Space Hijackers website, said: “We always refuted these ridiculous claims on the part of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and invited people to look over the past 10 years of our work, which the police were well aware of, to see that we have a long history of parody, dressing up and winding up the powers that be.”
Ms Labinjoh has also received a written apology for her clients from the Commissioner of the City of London Police, which ended:
“I accept the Crown Prosecution Service finding in discontinuing the criminal prosecution against you that there was no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. I regret that the standard of the treatment you received from the Force [on 1 April 2009] did not meet with your expectations and I am committed to continuously improving the service we provide, to ensure public trust and confidence are maintained.”
After 15 years’ of protesting, Space Hijackers disbanded in 2014.
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