Sheffield Rail protest arrests: transport police respond

Old man arrest
Old man arrest
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Ugly scenes broke out at Sheffield station as OAPs were grabbed, handcuffed and arrested in protests over cuts to travel passes.

Two men, aged 65 and 64, were handcuffed, arrested and bundled away by British Transport Police officers - prompting outrage from Sheffield Disabled People Against The Cuts and Barnsley Retirees Action Group.

The two men have since been charged with failure to pay, and obstructing police.

Protesters were at the station after travelling without paying from Meadowhall to the city centre in their latest ‘Freedom Ride’. The group, a mix of elderly and disabled people, were campaigning against cuts to travel passes.

The Star’s reporter Alex Evans was threatened with arrest under the Terrorism Act – and made to delete video of protesters on the platform. (See Opinion, Page 14) .

Jen Dunstan, of Sheffield Disabled People Against The Cuts, said: “Dozens of elderly and disabled people have been left with bruising. Some have cuts where their skin has broken from being pushed and shoved.

“A placid and calm gentleman was roughly manhandled. I am angry and shocked. The police are meant to protect elderly people.”

Yorkshire Ambulance Service was called after one protester passed out with breathing difficulties on the platform.

Fran Postlethwaite, aged 62, the wife of another of the campaigners, from Barnsley, said: “My husband was arrested by British Transport Police for absolutely nothing.

“He was completing a peaceful protest and doing nothing at all wrong and he was violently manhandled by police officers.

“We are just peaceful protesters and we are being treated like criminals.

“They pushed a woman over, and an old gentleman nearly fell on the rails when they were pushing.

“They even confiscated my megaphone.”

A spokesman for British Transport Police confirmed: “We were called upon to assist rail staff dealing with issues relating to an ongoing protest.

“As a result two people were arrested - on suspicion of travel fraud and obstructing a police officer - and the investigation into these alleged offences is ongoing.

“A number of separate incidents arising from these arrests, and involving police, have been brought to our attention. We are in the process of fully investigating these and will speak to all those involved.

“Clearly, we are still in the very early stages of all investigations and it would be inappropriate to comment further until we have been able to speak to all parties and clearly establish the facts.”

Star reporter Alex Evans was threatened with arrest by a Northern Rail staff member. A spokesman for the firm said: “Members of the media must have written permission from the train operator which manages the station before undertaking any filming on station property. Under no circumstances are Northern Rail employees to be filmed without prior agreement.”

Readers online were mixed in their views. Poster Micketh said: “Thank goodness the police are now doing their job. This has gone on long enough.”

But Gb1973 said: “I know the gentleman has obviously done wrong but, I’m sorry, he is still a pensioner. The police were too heavy handed with him.”

George Arthur, aged 64, and Tony Nuttall, 65, have been charged with failure to pay and obstructing police.