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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK


Paedophile protesters clash with police

Protesters gathered outside Nottingham prison

Protesters and police clashed outside Nottingham Prison at a demonstration against proposed new accommodation for convicted paedophiles.

Riot police maintained a presence overnight following Monday evening's clashes between about 100 police officers and 250 protesters.

Protest organiser Maggie Bucknell: It seemed to get well out of control
But on Tuesday morning only a handful of protesters were maintaining a peaceful vigil.

The protest began during the day, when demonstrators used three cars and a transit van to block the main gates of the prison.

Police moved in during the evening when a prison van arrived at the jail for a routine transfer. Three of the vehicles were moved by their drivers but two protesters handcuffed themselves to one of the cars.

It had to be forcibly removed by a tow truck and police used wire cutters to release the two protesters.

Scuffles broke out and at least one person was arrested. An ambulance was called for a protester who had an asthma attack.

Police 'heavy-handed'

Protesters, who had demonstrated peacefully at the prison for four weeks, accused police of being heavy-handed during the incident.

Protester Angela Tolney said: "We told police we were working with them and keeping it all calm. The next thing we knew, all these riot police had arrived and a window was broken".

Maggie Bucknall from the Campaign Against Paedophile Accommodation, which organised the protest, said: "We've got on well with the police until this, but this seemed to get out of control immediately.

"Nobody was expecting it, the protesters were quite happy to still be peaceful...everybody was stunned".

The clashes came just hours after residents and local councillors joined a delegation to the Home Office to call for the plans to house newly-released paedophiles in bedsits at the prison to be scrapped.

Fears for children

Under the plans, the paedophiles, who have served their sentences, will be free to come and go, but will be kept under constant supervision.

However, local residents are concerned that their children could be in danger if an ex-offender decides to leave the jail.

The Home Office says the unit will not be opened until further safeguards have been agreed.

After Monday's meeting, the leader of Nottingham City Council, Graham Chapman, said he had been forced to accept that the controversial scheme will go ahead.

"I'm disappointed," he said. "But you've got to be practical. They are determined that the prisoners will eventually come to Nottingham".

The Prisons Minister, Lord Williams, believes the paedophile unit is the safest way to deal with notorious offenders after they have been released from jail. But he accepts that it is not risk-free - and says he would like the law to be changed.

"If you're disturbed and you can be treated, you can be sectioned under the Mental Health Act," he said.

"If you've got the same sort of dangerous disorder and you're not treatable, you can't. There seems to be a gap there."

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08 Jun 99 | UK
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