17 Jan 2012

Police remove Parliament Square’s tent city protest

After a decade of staging protests at Parliament Square, police enforce the new police reform bill and remove tents and campaigners from the area.

Police remove parliament's tent city protest (g)

Two people were arrested on Monday evening during a police operation to remove “all tents and sleeping equipment from Parliament Square”.

Metropolitan police officers arrived at the scene at around 7.30pm and spent three hours clearing between eight and 10 tents, and moving between 10 and 12 people from the area.

One person has launched legal proceedings and has been allowed to stay, said police.

“At the high court yesterday the Met undertook not to enforce the legislation against that individual while proceedings are ongoing,” said a spokesman.

Officers were enforcing the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act of 2011, which gives police new powers to prevent encampments around Parliament Square.

A police spokesman said two people were arrested for breaching the act, and a third person was given a court summons for the same offence.

The late peace campaigner Brian Haw led the protest on the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament. Anti-war protesters have used the space for over a decade, and campaigners set up “Democracy Village” on the green in May 2010.

They were evicted in July last year by the Greater London Authority following a high court order, but some protesters then pitched tents on the pavement next to the lawn.

The City of Westminster Council’s clean streets teams assisted officers with the operation.

The council proposed a new bye-law in December which would impose £500 fines for failure to remove the tents.

Council leader Colin Barrow said he supported the police action. “For too long local people and tourists have been unable to fully enjoy the square,” he said.

“This is a tragedy and the sooner this historic site can be enjoyed by the public, the better.”