Warwick and Leamington MP raises concerns about behaviour of security guards towards protestors and asks for more funding for 'responsible policing' at HS2 sites
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has written to Policing Minister Kit Malthouse to raise concerns about the behaviour of some security guards towards protestors at HS2 work sites in his constituency.
And the Labour MP has also proposed that extra funding is given for Warwickshire Police, and other forces along the line, to provide responsible policing of the sites.
In a post on his Facebook page which includes a photograph of the letter he has sent to the Policing Minister, Mr Western said: "The alleged treatment of protestors by HS2 Ltd-hired security guards appears to have been, in some cases, excessive and shocking.
"Protestors have a right to peacefully express their opposition to a project that will alter many protestors’ communities and their lives.
"They should not be met with any violence from National Eviction Team employees.
"A protestor near my constituency in Kenilworth was left with a broken jaw while the NET guards have also been criticised for their treatment of protestors in the Euston tunnel.
"The costs of policing HS2 are already great for the chronically underfunded Warwickshire force.
"We need to fund responsible policing, where any violence against protestors can be dealt with in a swift and accountable fashion."
"Therefore, I have written to the Policing Minister Kit Malthouse to convey my concerns about the behaviour of some guards at construction sites along the proposed rail line.
"But I also proposed that Warwickshire Police, and other forces along the line, be granted extra funding to police the sites with trained and legitimate officers – rather than unaccountable private-hire NET bouncers."
In response, a HS2 spokeswoman said: "HS2 Ltd accepts the right to peaceful protest, but when the UK is dealing with the pandemic, the often violent and criminal behaviour of those who seek to stop HS2 works only serves to put additional pressure on public services at this critical time.
"The National Eviction Team is part of the High Court Enforcement Group which carries out work as an HS2 sub-contractor and staff hold a valid SIA license or Bailiff certificate to undertake enforcement activities.
"In over three years of working alongside these officers, HS2 Ltd has never observed any behaviour that would call their integrity into question.
"In the face of often violent and abusive behaviour they have always acted in a professional and safe manner.
"It is disappointing that the Police have been called to investigate the many claims made by illegal trespassers of abuse and heavy-handedness in their evictions, yet to date no officer removing activists from HS2 Ltd land has been subsequently judged by the police to have acted inappropriately."
Several protestors have been arrested by police at HS2 sites near Leamington since the work began.