Sheffield tree protest payouts do not set a precedent, say police

Police insist the £24,000 paid out to Sheffield tree protesters over their arrests do not set a precedent for other claims.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 14:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 16:45 pm
South Yorkshire Police made the arrests during protests against tree felling in Sheffield

Seven demonstrators who were arrested under trade union legislation and held for up to nine hours were awarded a total of £24,300 by South Yorkshire Police in an out-of-court settlement.

Another six civil claims against the force are ongoing, lawyers for the campaigners revealed yesterday, on the grounds they were wrongfully arrested and their detention breached their human rights.

The settlement came after the Independent Office for Police Conduct last year upheld appeals from six of those who were arrested, ruling the force had ‘no grounds’ to detain them using the legislation in question.

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Paul Brooke, one of the campaigners to receive a payout, yesterday described their arrests as a ‘deliberate act to prevent legitimate protest’ and said it was ‘astonishing' they were still awaiting an apology from police.

But South Yorkshire Police responded by saying it had concerns about the IOPC’s ruling and only agreed the payout to ensure the tree-felling saga did not make an even bigger hole in the public purse.

In a statement, the force said: “Following the IOPC’s findings in relation to arrests made in connection with protests in Sheffield, South Yorkshire Police raised concerns over the final judgement.

“The upheld appeals were not based on an error in law and rightly, no officers were found to have a case to answer for misconduct.

“However, South Yorkshire Police took the view that as a result of the IOPC findings, and in order to minimise the potential further impact to the public purse, in addition to existing significant costs for policing the protests, settlement with those individuals affected by this matter was agreed.

“The decision in respect of these cases does not bind SYP for any future claims it receives, and each claim will be subject to an individual assessment.

“No formal apology was requested as part of the civil claim.”

The arrests related to protests against tree felling as part of Sheffield Council’s £2.2 billion Streets Ahead contract with Amey to improve and maintain the city's roads and pavements.