Wickham animal rights demo policing is criticised

PROTEST Demonstrators campaign at Wickham Labs. ''Picture: Chris Broom (123044-1)
PROTEST Demonstrators campaign at Wickham Labs. ''Picture: Chris Broom (123044-1)
Police are investigating three incidents in Southsea and Eastleigh. Picture: Hampshire Constabulary

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ANIMAL rights protesters have criticised the police for being ‘over the top’ during a recent demonstration.

Police officers visibly outnumbered members of Stop Wickham Animal Testing (SWAT) during their annual march against the controversial Wickham Labs.

But police have refused to reveal how many officers were involved in the operation following a Freedom of Information request from The News.

About 60 protesters took part in the march through Fareham town centre last month.

It was the first time the march had taken place in the town. It had previously taken place in Wickham, but last year the labs moved to the Barwell Lane industrial estate in Gosport – and kept the same name.

The group took the decision to move the march to keep it in the public eye.

Jeanette McClunan of SWAT said: ‘They definitely outnumbered us.

‘We always have several meetings with the police in advance, and this time they were concerned about having it in Fareham.

‘The last thing any of us is going to do is to step out of line at these demonstrations because if anyone is arrested it gives us negative publicity.

‘The level of policing was completely over the top.’

The News asked Hampshire Constabulary how many officers took part on September 15, how much it cost the taxpayer.

Rebecca Warhurst of the joint information management unit said in a statement: ‘Disclosure of officer information is likely to provide a tactical insight into how events of this nature are policed and the level of resourcing that is dedicated to this type of protest.

‘Armed with this type of intelligence information, individuals may be able to determine the likely level of policing input at future comparable events and use this sensitive operational information to compromise policing activity and the law enforcement function.’