by Joel Lamy
Video footage has emerged showing a private enforcement officer who allegedly threatened children with an £80 fine after complaining they were protesting "too loudly".
Pupils as young as Year 8 were allegedly told by an enforcement officer from Kingdom Services Group last Friday that their protest about climate change was "anti-social behaviour" and that they could be given tickets if they did not stop.
A spokesperson from the company told the Peterborough Telegraph "there couldn’t have been an intention" to issue the fine as the officer's body-worn camera had not been switched on.
But footage sent into the Peterborough Telegraph shows a Kingdom officer describing the protest as "anti-social behaviour" as it was "too loud".
'Who tells anyone how loud loud is?'
The video sees the officer tell Fiona Radic, who is defending the protesters, "Under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 they need to stop shouting as loud as they are because it is classed as anti-social behaviour."
A lawyer then gets involved. He says, "That's hilarious. Who tells anyone how loud loud is?"
The enforcement officer replies, "If it's disturbing the public."
The officer is then asked if there have been any complaints, to which he replied "no," before adding, "I'm an enforcement and prevention officer. I'm preventing."
The youngsters told the Peterborough Telegraph that the threat of the fine was removed once they made it clear their protest had been sanctioned.
Kingdom is contracted by Peterborough City Council to patrol areas covered by Public Space Protection Orders, including one in the city centre.
This authorises them to issue fines for littering, spitting, defecating and begging, as well as cycling on Bridge Street. Its staff are allowed to hand out fines of £80, with the firm keeping £45 of the proceeds.
Several councils have broken or not renewed their contracts with Kingdom, but the firm had its contract extended with Peterborough City Council a few months ago after an initial 18 month period.
A spokesperson for the city council said, "We believe that on this occasion a misunderstanding between a group of young people and Kingdom enforcement officers occurred during a protest event.
"The protest was quite loud and mistakenly perceived to be anti-social behaviour in breach of the Public Space Protection Order. Officers initially asked the group to stop before they realised what was happening.
"We have since spoken to Kingdom about their handling of this incident and have reminded enforcement officers of their powers and responsibilities."
Young people were protesting about climate change across the country on Friday, including in Cathedral Square where school and university students from Peterborough were calling for immediate environmental action both nationally and locally.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, The Peterborough Telegraph