A policeman confronts a student at the sit-in. Photo: WFEE.
Show Hide image

Video: Police appear to assault students at peaceful protest

A small "free education" sit-in was disrupted this afternoon by police, who used force to disperse the group and arrested three students. 

Police appear to have tasered, CS-sprayed and assaulted students taking part in a “free education” protest at Warwick University.

Here is the video of the incident, courtesy of LiveLeak, which shows students being thrown to the ground, put in headlocks and sprayed by the police. They are accompanied by multiple security guards. 

A second video, which has since been made private, captured the incident from the other side of the room and shows a series of students being dragged from the foyer. This shorter video was also captured.

The students were meeting as part of the “Warwick for Free Education” group. Pictures of the meeting before the violence appear to show a small, peaceful, sit-in, of around two dozen students sitting in a circle.

The West Midlands police have published a statement absolving themselves of wrongdoing. They offered no reply to questions of their conduct and, despite having a pre-prepared statement, claimed to have not seen the video.

Three students have been arrested – one on suspicion of assault and two for obstructing the police.

Here is their statement in full:

Police were called to reports of an assault at the University of Warwick Central Campus in Coventry this afternoon.

Officers arrived at Senate House at 4.50pm to find a group of around 25 students protesting about fees and a staff member reported that he had been assaulted by one of the group.

Three people were arrested from the site, one on suspicion of assault and two others on suspicion of obstructing police.

Police officers and security staff from the university worked together to ensure everyone was safe. The protest continues and officers remain at the scene to ensure there is no further breach of the peace.

Callum Cant, an undergraduate at the university who was present throughout, told the New Statesman that the reports of a student assault on a member of staff are "based on the university calling them and saying it happened, I saw absolutely nothing". The police would not describe the nature of the assault, but it seems that one of the security guards was the supposed victim. 

Craig McVey, a PhD student who was also present, told the Coventry Telegraph:

“A police officer took out his CS spray and sprayed it in one person’s eyes and then into a crowd of about ten people. A taser was taken out and was being made to crackle by pressing the trigger, but it wasn’t used.”

Harry Lambert was the editor of May2015, the New Statesman's election website.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

0800 7318496