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Windsor: What went wrong ?
  INCREASED pressure for independent inquiries into  complaints against the  police has followed the affray at the pop festival at Windsor. 
   Critics of the present system point out that the Home Secretary, Mr Roy Jenkins, will have to decide whether or not to hold a public inquiry on the basis of a report prepared by Mr David Holdsworth. Chief Constable of the Thames Valley Police. Yet it was Mr Holdsworth who decided that the police should remove the pop fans from Windsor Great Park on Thursday. 
 'Windsor is the perfect example of how the current machinery is wrong,' said Mr  Bill Nash legal officer of the national Council for Civil  Liberties. 
   Only two kinds of inquiry are possible under the Police Act. 1964. Under Section 32, the Home Secretary can order a full public inquiry -like the one under Lord Justice Scarman into the Red Lion Square events. which opens in London tomorrow. Under Section 49. the Chief Constable can call in a police officer from outside his authority to investigate individual complaints against identified officers.

'There's no middle way,' said Mr Nash, 'and the trouble is that Mr Holdsworth can hardly call in outside police to investigate policemen including himself. 
Also, not many of the young people who complain of being mistreated by the police will have identified the constables. So section 49 is no use here. We need new machinery, a totally independent inquiry.' 

Release, the organization that aids people with drug problems, is also pressing for a change of law that would create an element of independence in police inquiries. 
  The Windsor fracas is not believed in Whitehall to have the same political overtones as Red Lion Square, but none the less the Home Secretary will be under pressure to answer or refute the main allegations against the hard line treatment of the issue by the Thames Valley Police. 

Ignoring the more paranoid complaints, the main allegations against the police would appear to be these : 

  • That there was no need to clear the fans out of Windsor Great Park last Thursday. Owners of the land, the Crown Estates Commissioners, had not requested removal, the Free Festival would anyway have ended three days later and if the people were to be cleared this should have happened on the first day. 
  • That the police instructions to people to leave the site were not clearly heard. The allegation is that many people did not realize what the police wanted because few police loud hailers were used. 
  • That excessive force was used in clearing the site. The allegation is that individual police lost their tempers or responded to the provocation of being called 'pigs' over the festival's amplifiers. The charge is that truncheons were used unnecessarily; and that bystanders were harassed when trying to take numbers of constables. 
  • That Drugs Squads police broke the law in searching Suspects. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, stipulates that policemen must have reasonable grounds for stopping and searching a member of the public for drugs. -the allegation is that the Drugs Squad searched Windsor fans at random. I witnessed a police road block near the park . Cars or vans were directed by police into the front yard of a house where the suspects were searched. The criteria for selecting vehicles appeared to be their condition or decor: vans with floral designs were a special target. 
  • That unnecessary harshness was employed after arrests. Arrested people were taken to the Combermere Army Barracks  in Windsor, where suspects were made to undress completely, put on heavy pyjamas. and be subjected to anal and vaginal searches, according to at least one doctor allowed into the barracks. 
  • That the police refused lawyers access to defendants held in cells or at Combermere Barracks. Solicitors employed by Release make this charge. On Friday, the Army ended its arrangement with the police whereby the barracks were used to hold suspects -partly because of this charge, it is believed. 
  • That police acted unreasonably in refusing bail before court appearances. Release alleges that this tactic, plus detention in the barracks, persuaded many people to plead guilty to get free as quickly as possible. 

   Police spokesmen last week declined to go into detail in answering charges. Chief Constable David Holdsworth said :'In my view Thames Valley Police showed great restraint and patience during the course of this very difficult operation '.

   But the Home Secretary might be interested in an answer from Mr Holdsworth as to whether police tactics changed between the start of the festival and its break-up. 
 On the first day of the festival, police spokesmen were stressing that they were anxious to take a low temperature approach to the festival. 'Our job is to keep the peace.' said Chief Inspector Dennis Howells, Press and Liaison Officer for the Thames Valley Police.