Lara Prendergast

Officials at King’s College as well as King's College Student Union (KCSU) have criticised the way police handled the arrest of two students on Thursday evening.

On the evening, one student from the University of Cambridge and one sixth-form student were arrested in King’s College following an anti-cuts protests.

In a statement on Tuesday evening KCSU said, "KCSU condemns what we believe to have been a disproportionate level of violence used by the police against these students during their arrest.

"Furthermore, KCSU condemns the police's decision to enter the college despite repeated protestation from college authorities.  We believe that the police acted in contempt of the porters, students and fellows, and support the college's formal complaint against the police's actions."

The protest was part of a national day of action protest against the rise in university fees, cuts to education funding, EMA, and the marketisation of education.

Following the protest, police arrived at King’s College to arrest two students for obstructing an officer. They have since been charged with this offence.

The porters told the officers they could not enter the college. Nevertheless, the police entered the college to make the arrests.

A police spokesperson said, “If police believe a crime has been committed they have the power to enter private property.”

Basim Musallam, King’s College Vice-Provost, said: “The police were told by the Vice-Provost, the Admissions Tutor, and numerous porters that they had absolutely not been given permission to be on college property. The police willfully disregarded everything that they said.”

Police then proceeded to the students they wished to arrest and used PAVA spray on a number of the students in attendance.

A press-release from Cambridge Defend Education, the organisers of the protest, says, “The arrested sixth-form student was pepper-sprayed, thrown to the ground, and held in a headlock, despite protesting that he could not breathe.”

After both students had been forcibly removed from the college, they were put into police vans on Kings Parade amidst the fury of fellow protestors.

The following day, officials from King’s College met with the local Police force to voice their concerns about the way the situation was handled.

A spokesperson from the Police said, “King’s College have been asked to document their concerns and send them to the Police Divisional Commander.

“He will review and assign an independent officer to investigate any complaints concerning policing of the event, in accordance with the constabulary’s policy.”

Regarding the day’s arrests, CUSU President, Rahul Mansigani said: “This is not the first instance of police violence against Cambridge student protesters: it must be the last.

"The police must seriously review their approach to policing student protests, and we expect Cambridgeshire Police to enter into serious discussions with CUSU and the University about how they intend to improve their policing of student protests.”

Cambridge Defend Education’s Facebook page had the following announcement following the arrests, “Come to Parkside Police station! Police illegally arrested two peaceful protesters in King's College and used pepper spray.”

The two men charged with obstructing an officer will appear at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on March 7.

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