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Amnesty slams police over Warwick sit-in actions

File photo. Amnesty International has said it is concerned West Midlands Police is becoming 'trigger happy' in its use of Tasers Credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Amnesty International has criticised police action against students at a Warwick University demonstration.

In a statement the charity, which works to protect human rights against state abuse, said it was worried West Midlands Police were becoming "trigger-happy" with Tasers.

Protest group Warwick For Free Education said it was staging a peaceful sit-in at Warwick University's Senate House over rising tuition fees and high wages for university management when police arrived with Tasers and CS gas.

But a spokesman for the university said that security staff who were supervising the sit-in were subject to a "shocking and unprovoked act of violence" which forced them to call in police.

A 24-year-old protester was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a security guard and two others, aged 19 and 24, were arrested for obstructing police.

All three have now been released on bail.

"Videos of the incident and accounts from several eyewitnesses raise serious concerns about whether the police acted heavy-handedly and seriously endangered people at the scene.

"Eyewitnesses report that CS gas was used in a relatively confined space against peaceful protesters posing no threat, while one police officer is clearly seen discharging a Taser into the air for a prolonged period - an action that could have caused serious injury if gas had been ignited.

"A Taser is only supposed to be used by police as a 'distance-control' weapon when confronting dangerous individuals - it should never be used as a crowd-control device.

"West Midlands police already use Tasers more than any other police force in England and Wales and we're increasingly concerned that its officers are misusing the weapon. "We're not against CS gas or Tasers if used by well-trained police officers trying to prevent a death or a serious injury, but we're worried that West Midlands Police are becoming increasingly trigger-happy with Tasers."

– Amnesty International UK arms control director Oliver Sprague

Police said they would investigate the contents of the videos and have insisted that the Taser was drawn as a warning, but was not pointed at anybody, and was not fired.

Police release statement on Warwick student protest

File photo. Police have released a statement defending their actions at a Warwick University student protest Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire/Press Association Images

West Midlands Police force has released a statement defending its actions at a Warwick University student protest yesterday.

The force says officers were sent to Senate House because they were told that a member of university staff had been assaulted.

Three men were arrested and have been released on bail. A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a security guard, while the two others - who were 19 and 24 years old, were arrested for obstructing police.

Police say although a taser was drawn during the altercation, it was not fired and it was not pointed at anybody. But officers did use CS spray against a group who were "advancing on officers".

The group had been staging a sit-in protest at the university's Senate House building over tuition fees.

"Police officers are highly trained in dealing with all public order situations and using appropriate levels of force. "We are aware of videos of the protest being circulated on social media sites.

"We expect the highest standards from all officers, and if any officer is found to have fallen below these standards, they will be thoroughly investigated."

– Coventry Police Commander, Chief Superintendent Claire Bell


Student Union says it believes 'disproportionate force' was used

This afternoon, a group were demonstrating for Free Education and entered the lobby of Senate House. The police arrived and an altercation took place, the full facts of which we are still in the process of establishing. Three people were arrested. From the footage we have seen of this incident, we absolutely believe that disproportionate force was used against protesters. We stand in solidarity with the Warwick students who were unnecessarily harmed in this action.

– Warwick University Students Union

The statement went on to say that the sabattical team would attend the peaceful demonstration happening tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) and it would update students later.


'Trojan Horse' school to join academy chain

One of the five schools in Birmingham placed in special measures following the so-called Trojan Horse allegations of a Muslim takeover plot is to join a national academy chain.

Oldknow Academy in Birmingham Credit: Google Street View

The education charity Ark will take over Oldknow Academy in September.

Some of the governors at the school in Small Heath were accused by Ofsted of promoting a narrow faith-based ideology.

The charity says the school will remain non-selective, non-religious and mixed.

More parents in court for failing to make sure children in school

There has been a huge rise in the number of parents in Coventry taken to court for failing to make sure their children are in school.

Within the last school year 110 parents ended up before magistrates Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Within the last school year 110 parents ended up before magistrates compared with just 10 in the previous year.

This school year 28 parents have appeared in court.

Punishments were either conditional discharges or fines of between £50 and £100. None of the parents were given a prison sentence.

OFSTED: St Edmund Campion Primary in Nottinghamshire 'continues to have serious weaknesses'

Inspectors have told a troubled primary school in Nottinghamshire that it continues to have serious weaknesses and its plan of action to improve is "not fit for purpose".

Ofsted says St Edmund Campion Primary in West Bridgford has not made enough progress since its last inspection.

The headteacher, Dorothy Longley, resigned earlier this month just before she was due to face a disciplinary hearing.

South Nottingham Catholic Academy Trust, which runs the school, says inspectors are due back in the spring when they expect to be "well on the way" to coming out of serious weaknesses.

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