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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 March 2006, 17:12 GMT
Seals removed to prevent distress
Animal rights protesters said police over-reacted when they were told to hide seal toys covered with red dye as part of a protest in Worcester.

Eight campaigners were in the city centre for a few hours to protest about the annual Canadian seal culling.

They said officers were waiting for them and issued orders under the Public Order Act, unless the seal bears were removed from the action.

Police said action was taken to prevent "disorder, or distress or disruption".

The animal rights protesters had white seal toys which they had covered with red dye, to signify blood.

'Harassment or distress'

Lynn Sawyer, from Evesham, said Worcester was picked as it was local to the eight protestors but they found police were "heavy-handed".

"We handed out leaflets. It was a good spot as it is a very public space," she said.

"I don't see how people could be offended by cuddly toys. We were just in the street, we were not outside a fur shop or anything like that."

She said the protest carried on and they left after two hours as originally planned. She said she thought police would have better things to do.

A West Mercia police spokesman said: "The order was issued to prevent disorder, or distress or disruption to passers-by.

"These orders are used where the senior officer policing any event or incident considers that it could give rise to serious disorder, disruption to the community, or intimidation, or could cause harassment or distress."

The police action was weeks after colleagues in Herefordshire attracted national publicity for seizing three golly toys in Bromyard, under race-hate laws.

Seized gollies returned to store
03 Mar 06 |  Hereford/Worcs

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