Madrid, 13 April 2015 – There is a serious lack of transparency about the use of various types of equipment during policing of protests according to Access Info Europe, following research conducted in 42 countries and territories across Europe by means of access to information requests.
The research by the Madrid-based pro-transparency organisation aimed to get a comprehensive picture of the legal framework for and actual use of different types of equipment – including batons, shields, tear gas, and rubber bullets.
This goal was frustrated by the fact that not one of the 42 countries surveyed provided full information to a set of five questions about the law governing use of equipment during protests, the training on its use, the quantities and nature of equipment held, and post-protest evaluations.
“It is of particular concern that only one third of police forces contacted responded to requests about something as simple as the legal framework governing the use of equipment during protests,” said Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
Over half of the countries in the survey, 22 of the 42 countries surveyed, failed to respond at all to the requests in spite of various follow up attempts, a rate of administrative silence which Access Info Europe qualifies as “unacceptable”.
The Access Info Europe research found abysmally low levels of responsiveness across the board for issues which should be available to members of the public: just five countries (12%) provided information about training given to police forces on the use of equipment during protests and only ten (24%) counties released post-protest evaluation reports.
Three countries, the Czech Republic, France and the Netherlands went so far as to deny access to information on which equipment police are permitted to use during protests. A full nine countries refused to provide information on the quantities of equipment held by the police with only Hungary providing the data.
“We asked for information that really should be made available proactively on-line,” commented Andreas Pavlou, coordinator at Access Info Europe and one of the editors of the report. “In all democratic countries the public should be able to know how much training and equipment the police have in order to evaluate their preparedness to handle protest situations and to permit public debate on how public funds are being spent.”
For more information, please contact:
Helen Darbishire | Executive Director
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Andreas Pavlou | Community and Communications Coordinator
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