Call for inquiry into police decision to arrest and charge tree protesters in Sheffield

An inquiry has been called for into the police decision to arrest and charge tree protesters in Sheffield.

Friday, 3rd March 2017, 6:14 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:20 am
A tree felling protest on Chippinghouse Road

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, is to be contacted and asked to look into the actions of South Yorkshire Police after 14 tree protesters arrested and charged by the force have all had their cases dropped.

Nine protesters arrested and charged over protests they staged in Chippinghouse Road, Nether Edge, last month found out yesterday that they are no longer to be prosecuted.

They object to trees being felled across Sheffield as part of a street improvement programme.

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Sheffield Council contractor Amey, which is carrying out the road improvement programme as part of a £2 billion scheme, is felling some trees claimed to be damaging roads and pavements.

Green party councillor Alison Teal was among those arrested at one of the Chippinghouse Road protests.

Police officers used Trade Union legislation, aimed at preventing people from stopping others working, to arrest the tree protesters.

Natalie Bennett, the Green Party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Sheffield Central constituency, said: "We welcome the decision to drop charges against Councillor Alison Teal, a well liked and respected local politician, and those against the other peaceful protesters.

"But it does throw into further doubt the actions of South Yorkshire Police. I will be writing to Dr Alan Billings to ask him to investigate the police actions.

"We are now in a situation where the Crown Prosecution Service by dropping the charges has confirmed the right to peaceful protests to protect trees, and the ball is in the city council's court.

"Sheffield City Council needs to rethink the whole approach it has taken in allowing Amey to put private profit before public good, and find a new way forward that reflects the will of the community and that properly consults and then listens to residents' views."