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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Emily Atkinson

Royal fan arrested for 13 hours at coronation describes moment police ‘grabbed her from crowd’

BBC Newsnight

A royal fan detained for 13 hours after standing next to Just Stop Oil protesters ahead of the King’s coronation has described the moment police “grabbed her from the crowd”.

Alice Chambers had headed to the Mall on Saturday morning to catch a glimpse of the King’s procession as it made its way towards Westminster Abbey for the historic service.

But as she waited among the crowds, she found herself handcuffed by police and arrested on suspicion of “potential to cause a breach of the peace” alongside roughly a dozen other people. The incident, which was caught on camera by Sky News, took place at around 9am.

Alice Chambers was detained for 13 hours – meaning she missed the whole coronation (BBC Newsnight)

The 36-year-old architect, originally from Australia but now living in London, says she had no idea she was rubbing shoulders with members of the action group in the crowd, as they had not yet started their planned demonstration.

Ms Chambers said she arrived at the Mall at around 7am. Two hours later, she was arrested by officers who mistook her for being a Just Stop Oil activist, despite her repeatedly telling them she was not.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, she said: “The next minute I just realised that the police had swooped in and started grabbing a whole heap of people, and unfortunately I was one of the people they grabbed.

“They handcuffed me straight away and then pulled me out of the crowd and put me against a barrier with a whole heap of other protesters.”

Royal fan arrested for standing near Just Stop Oil protesters during coronation

Ms Chambers said she repeatedly explained to the officers that she was not part of the activist group and that she “didn’t even know what they were protesting about.”

She went on: “I tried to say anything I could to say I wasn’t part of that group... nothing seemed to be able to be said that made a difference really.”

Ms Chambers hoped that once she arrive at a police station there would be someone she could talk to about the “misunderstanding”. This moment never came, however, and she was detained for 13 hours – missing the whole coronation.

Officers took her fingerprints, DNA, mugshots and locked her in a cell. She was also repeatedly quizzed and searched, before being interviewed at around 7pm.

Ms Chambers has made a complaint to the force and the police watchdog (Sky News)

Finally, Ms Chambers was able to explain why she was there. The officers looked at her “in shock”, she told the broadcaster, before apologising.

They then tried to “process me as quickly as I could”, but it still took another couple of hours before she was released.

She was allowed to go home at around 10pm from Wandsworth police station after breaking down in tears.

Ms Chambers, who has made a complaint to the force and the police watchdog, previously told the i newspaper: “I understand why the police were on the edge, they did have a tough job that day.

“But they need to have better processes and better training in place because innocent people shouldn’t be getting locked up for that long.”

Ms Chambers said she felt there was a lot of “finger pointing” between police forces as she was detained in London but arrested by a Lincolnshire police officer.

The Home Affairs Committee has confirmed it will scrutinise the Metropolitan Police’s handling of anti-monarchy protests over the coronation weekend (PA Wire)

In a statement, the Met expressed “regret” that the woman was not able to watch the coronation, adding that officers had spoken with her to explain our decisions and the next steps.

“Officers involved in the safety and security operation acted on information available to them,” the force said.

The incident comes after the Met faced widespread criticism for arresting dozens of republicans ahead of the coronation service on Saturday.

When contacted for comment on Ms Chambers’ experience, a Met spokesperson: “We are aware that a woman was arrested in relation to a protest on 6 May 2023.”

“The arresting officer was from Lincolnshire Police and the complaint has therefore been passed to the relevant force to investigate. The Met will assist by providing any relevant information they require.”

Chief inspector Simon Outen, from the Professional Standards Department at Lincolnshire Police, said: “Our officers were in central London providing mutual aid support to colleagues in the Met on Saturday 6 May, and during that time, a woman in her 30s was arrested in connection with a Just Stop Oil protest.”

“She was subsequently released with no further action. We have now received a complaint and we are reviewing the incident, and we are in contact with the complainant to establish the full details of her allegations.”

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