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Hertfordshire Police apologise to LBC journalist Charlotte Lynch after she was wrongfully arrested covering M25 protest
23 November 2022, 11:41 | Updated: 23 November 2022, 12:49
Herfordshire Police have apologised to LBC journalist Charlotte Lynch after she was wrongfully arrested covering a Just Stop Oil protest on the M25 earlier this month.
Charlotte was arrested and held for five hours on suspicion of conspiracy to commit a public nuisance on the side of the M25, despite the fact that she had her press identification with her.
Her arrest on November 8 sparked national concern and prompted intervention from the Prime Minister, whose spokesperson told reporters: “It’s vital journalists are able to do their job freely without restriction.”
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Two other journalists were also arrested while attending the eco-protests, the pair – who both insisted they had no affiliation with the group and also presented their press cards – had equipment seized and were taken to the police station.
At the time Hertfordshire Police Chief Constable Charlie Hall called for an independent force to examine its approach to the arrests.
Today that review, done by Cambridgeshire Constabulary, has been made public.
It confirms that the arrests of the journalists were not justified and recommended five changes that need to urgently be made to stop this situation happening again.
Mr Hall insists that while he personally called the journalists to apologise, the arrests were not ‘malicious’ or ‘deliberately disproportionate’.
He said that the officers simply made mistakes and the force now has some ‘valuable’ learning to do.
Mr Hall said: “I fully appreciate the legitimate concerns raised by the arrests of the journalists, which was why I commissioned the review. I also rang and apologised to the accredited journalists who we arrested on 11 November.
“Whilst the review has correctly concluded that the arrests of the journalists were not justified, and that changes in training and command need to be made, it found no evidence to indicate that officers acted maliciously or were deliberately disproportionate. They made mistakes and I now reiterate my apologies.
“The review also affords some valuable learning, which we are acting on immediately, so that it can be used when policing future protests, and we will also be sharing the learning nationally.”
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The 5 recommendations are:
- Hertfordshire Constabulary should consider selecting commanders with commensurate skills and experience when balanced against the nature of the operation.
- Hertfordshire Constabulary should consider ensuring that mentors collate with commanders for the duration of the operation.
- Hertfordshire Constabulary should consider ensuring that all commanders have access to Public Order Safety (POPS) advisors.
- Hertfordshire Constabulary should consider affording commanders with the ability and capacity to maintain accurate decision logs.
- Hertfordshire Constabulary should consider ensuring that all officers engaged with public order activity complete the NUJ package and identified learning is shared.