Former Sheffield Council leader Lord Scriven has written to the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police to raise his concerns over the manner of policing during the ongoing tree felling programme in the city.
In the letter, which has been seen by The Yorkshire Post, Lord Scriven demands answers from Stephen Watson to several key questions and admits to being 'somewhat distressed' after seeing videos of recent policing during protests in Sheffield.
He also says the Chief Constable should be "held to account" and should "publicly explain the actions of the use of such a large public resource and the reason for such policing."
Lord Scriven says in his letter: "The last few months has seen a very worrying and escalating use of police at the felling of trees in Sheffield.
"It was evidenced yesterday (March 5) by the use of 33 police officers alongside 20 SIA private security officers.
"I am now of the view that you as Chief Constable have to be held to account and publicly explain the actions of the use of such a large public resource and the reason for such policing."
Questions Lord Scriven is asking Chief Constable Stephen Watson:
- The use of CCTV and other evidence gathering technology to film people, what PIAs have been carried out for each tree felling incident that South Yorkshire Police attend? If so what have the PIAs indicated?
- Can you indicate how South Yorkshire Police have complied with the ICO data on the use of surveillance cameras and personal information? I wish you to address each relevant section and not give just a general reply.
- The number of face-to-face meeting and teleconferences between SYP and/or Amey and/or Sheffield City Council where discussions or dialogue took place regarding the removal of protesters by force from zones/safety zones by SIA personnel.
- The number of face-to-face meetings and teleconferences between SYP and protest groups such as STAG where discussions or dialogue took place regarding the removal of protesters by force from zones/safety zones by SIA personnel.
- Have any agreements been reached with SYP and/or Amey and/or Sheffield City Council on the role of the police inside the safety zones?
- What is the operational sign-off procedure for the deployment of police numbers and resources to each tree felling incident and which officer had the final say on both numbers of police officers and the operational use of filming and use of riot shields etc?
- When a 66-year-old lady yesterday was knocked to the ground in the safety zone by SIA staff, why did SYP officers not make any attempt to deal with this?
- What operational assessments have been made to deploy over the last three months the number of police officers to each tree felling event that SYP have been present? Why based on public safety has the number been agreed upon?
- Who has asked SYP to attend each tree felling incident since September 2017? Could I please have the name of the organisation and why SYP have agreed to attend each one based on evidence?
- Who is reviewing from SYP the ongoing deployment of police resources to tree felling incidents?
- What information is being passed between SYP and/or Amey and Sheffield City Council with regards to the data collected as part of evidence gathering and how does this comply with the HRA and data protection legislation?
Lord Scriven is a Liberal Democrat politician who was Sheffield Council leader between 2008 and 2011.