Police use CS spray to tackle Warwick student protest

Police drew a taser and used CS spray at a student protest at the University of Warwick, on a day of demonstrations across higher education.

December 4, 2014

Video footage of the Warwick incident apparently shows CS spray being used against protesters from the Warwick for Free Education group. The National Union of Students president Toni Pearce called the police action “truly shocking” and “disproportionate”.

West Midlands police said they had been called to the campus to answer a report of an assault on a member of staff. Three men arrested at the protest have been released on bail.

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, a student group that was among the organisers of last month’s free education demonstration in London, said there had also been occupations at the University of Manchester, Lancaster University and the University of Sheffield yesterday. The headquarters of Universities UK, in central London, were also occupied for a period.

Nigel Thrift, the Warwick vice-chancellor, said in a statement issue today that he was “disheartened  that yesterday’s protest uncharacteristically saw an unprovoked assault on one of our security team that gave us no alternative but to ask the police to attend the scene to investigate that alleged assault”.

He added: “Let me be clear that the police were called solely to investigate the alleged assault on a member of staff and not in response to the protest on campus. When the police arrived our security team still endeavoured to get the individual alleged to have made the assault to fully identify himself before the police engaged directly with the protesters.”

Professor Thrift continued: “Sadly that individual, and others present, would not co-operate with this request and the police were obliged to intervene directly.  I, like many others, have been saddened by the images of what then occurred which saw police and students having to engage in and resolve an unnecessarily challenging situation which led on from the actions of one individual.”

On the Warwick incident, West Midlands police said that “a taser was drawn as a visible and audible warning to prevent a further disorder. The taser was not pointed at anyone and was not fired”.

The statement added: “CS spray was also used by police during the protest when a group advanced on officers.”

Ms Pearce said the footage from Warwick “indicates truly shocking, disproportionate force has been used against protesters”.

“The use of police brutality, tear gas and tasers against students is absolutely disgusting. All students should be safe on their campuses.” 

She added: “Peaceful protest and occupation is part of the history of the student movement and one we are very proud of. We will never allow our civil rights to be undermined by the police.”

Meanwhile, a petition set up on behalf of “ex-Warwick students and staff who were shocked to see police violence directed against students on Warwick University property” calls on the university to make an “unreserved apology”.

The petition, which has already gathered hundreds of signatures, adds: “We believe this violence amounts to a violation of students’ welfare, an assault on their right to protest, and a failure on the part of the University to live up to its duty of care.” 


You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Reader's comments (2)

Would be Warwick wouldn't it ...
The situation from the description above still did not call for the strength of force from the local constabulary. American strong arlm tactics being used on a peacfull protest, all because they failed to negotiate and use peaceful methods of investigation to find the one person who assaulted a security officer. The police should be ashamed of the way they acted and the offending student should stand up for his or her actions in the first place.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy